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CHARLES FRANCIS COE, noted American author 
and lecturer, writes from his Florida home: 

"MIAMI MILLIONS is a whacking good book. In 
it you will find everything that ever was in a boom, and 
that is everything we call life. Personalities, politics, 
problems, profits, percentages, prognostications and per- 
cussions combine with love, laughter, libel, lachrymose 
liability and languorous liquidation. Booms are tricky 
things. Read this book and you will recognize the next 
boom that stares you in the face. You will also smile, 
shudder and salaam to figures which presaged the present 
era of billions. 

Charles Francis Coe." 

Ex IGtbrtB 


Copyright, 1936, by Kenneth Ballinger 

Good Fun While It Lasted 

In the following pages may be found the true story 
of the Florida land boom of 1925, when paper million- 
aires took the land of sunshine from the Seminole In- 
dians and gave it to the binder boys. 

Originally published under the title of "BOOMER- 
ANG" this account will recall to those who lived through 
the boom that parade of events which convinced the rest 
of the world that we were all quite mad down here in 
Florida. But it was good fun while it lasted. 

The author desires to express appreciation for the in- 
valuable advice and counsel given so freely by Frank 
B. Stoneman, beloved editor of The Miami Herald. 




19 3 6 


. when Miss Ruth Woodall won the 1925 Miami bathing beauty contest, 
girl-beach- palm picture became the keystone of Florida resort publicity. 

$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

HE most spectacular real estate boom of modern times was 

getting ready to sprinkle its heedless millions over the state 

of Florida in 1924, and Miami, at its very heart, was enter- 
ing upon a decade of growth that has made it headline material 
wherever newspapers are printed. 

The very obvious fact that the dark years of the hang-over 
from that spree are ended, and Florida again is being seeded with 
the dollars of rich Yankees and hopeful natives, makes it desir- 
able, perhaps, to recapture the days of 1924, 1925 and 1926 when 
Miami was transformed from a sleepy little town on the edge of 
Biscayne bay into a Magic City of modest skyscrapers and legend- 
ary real estate profits. 

From Miami, the nerves of the boom spread out into every 
corner of Florida. No land was too poor or too remote to attract 
buyers or to be subdivided, so long as it was within the confines 
of the state of Florida. The coasts where pirates under Morgan 
and Lafitte once plied their evil trade sprouted such riches that 
in one place ocean-side developers actually abandoned a pirate 
chest they could feel with their dredges, to get on with the more 
remunerative work of building a subdivision to sell. Pirate gold 
was nothing but museum antiques in the days when the binder 
boys had money flowing into Florida at a rate that would have 
put even the New Deal to shame. 

Just what is a boom such as Florida lived through? How 
long did the boom, as such, last? What marked its limits? What 
makes a boom? 

"Building activities," says Kenneth Keyes, president of the 
Keyes Company. "Profits," asserts G. D. Brossier, who has dealt 
in Miami real estate since 1893. 

Continues Mr. Keyes, who today ranks as one of the largest 
and best realty operators in the Miami field: 

"In my opinion the real estate boom which reached its climax 
in the summer of 1925 began to get under way in the spring of 
1923. Building permits in April, May, June and July of that 
year totaled $5,723,695, almost a million and a half dollars 
monthly. Gaining momentum more rapidly in early 1924, build- 
ing permits increased to almost $4,000,000 in the single month 
of August. 

"The all-time high was reached in October, 1925, when 
Greater Miami building permits for a 31-day period totaled 
$15,787,539, slightly more than the permits issued for Miami, 
Miami Beach, Coral Gables and the balance of the present Great- 
er Miami area for the entire year of 1935. 

"It is my personal belief that the climax of the boom was 
reached in the fall of 1925, but few of us realized it at that time. 



$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

By January or February, 1926, it was apparent to many that the 
boom was over." 

Mr. Brossier places the beginning of the boom in July, 1925. 
'The upward trend in Florida real estate values began as early as 
January, 1924," he believes, "when investors could purchase prop- 
erty and realize a quick turnover at a small profit. The selling 
gathered momentum and was at its highest from July until Octo- 
ber 31, 1925. In November there was a noticeable slackening of 
investing and the stock market crash of November, 1925, was 
really the finish of Miami's boom. 

He recalls that about October, lots which ordinarily were of- 
fered for $2,000 to $3,000 each were being sold for as much as 
$50,000, and it was not unusual for people with as little as $1,000 
deposit on a "proposition" to sell their option for $60,000. 

The full story of the Miami and Florida boom has never been 
written, and so we shall venture into those uncharted waters with 
our readers as partners in an effort to fix its boundaries and the 
meanders, to the end perhaps that we shall be able the next time 
to recognize a boom and to navigate it without so many wrecks. 

As Miami and Miami Beach and Coral Gables and many an- 
other Florida city took a fresh purchase on life from the 1925 
boom, so The Miami Herald entered into a new phase of existence 
at that time. It was the newspaper of the boom, dwarfing all 
other Florida publications, and leaping into a national prominence 
from the boom that has kept it ever since the largest newspaper 
in the state. 

Under the guiding hand of its owner and publisher, Frank B 
Shutts, The Miami Herald for more than 13 months in 1925 and 
1926 became the largest newspaper in volume of business in the 
entire world. It made The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune 
and even The Los Angeles Times appear skimpy and under- 
nourished by comparison. The Herald reached its peak in Jan- 
uary, 1926, when it carried twice as much advertising business as 
in any month of the preceding year. 

Ah, those were the happy days, when customers with cash in 
their fists pleaded in vain for page advertisements that couldn't 
find space even in an 88-page daily. A woman told a Herald cir- 
culation man : "I'd like to take The Sunday Herald, but I'm afraid 
it would fall on me." It was not unusual for the harried staff to 
turn down as many as 15 pages of advertising in one day. Prin- 
cipally in The Miami Herald the purchaser and the speculator 
found listed the opportunities they sought so avidly, not only in 
Dade county property, but in land from Key West to the far-off 
Perdido river. For as Miami was the heart of the boom, The 
Herald was the main artery through which the life blood of those 
pulsing times poured. 

Equipped in early 1924 to turn out a 24-page newspaper com- 
fortably, The Herald was as unprepared for the crest of the boom 
as were the railroads, the steamship companies and the public util- 
ities and government itself. The principal press on which the 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

paper was printed had run night and day for 20 years in the plant 
of The Denver Post before it was moved here. To supplement that, 
another second-hand press was set up in a garage across Second 
street from The Herald building while new presses were being 

These two valiant old relics were run until they shed bolts 
and loose parts like a love-sick maiden's tears. They kept rolling, 
somehow, on a 24-hour schedule through those weary months, un- 
til a new four-story printing plant equipped with a modern bat- 
tery of presses took over the job in 1926. 

But alack-a-day! The boom was ended by then. It has only 
been in the last two or three years that the complement of print- 
ing equipment ordered in the fullness of 1925 hopes has caught 
its stride. Now the plant again is crying for expansion as The 
Herald leads the state in circulation all the year, and tops the 
newspapers of all but eight states in the nation in advertising dur- 
ing the winter and spring. 

The business that made The Miami Herald what it is today 
also made Miami and her sister cities. We shall not bore you much 
with statistics, for no tables or charts can give us the story of the 
boom. Men and women, what they said and did, made the Florida 
land boom. Many of them are here today, ready again to take 
up the fight for profits and fame. In the ensuing chapters we 
shall attempt to give you a chronicle of the lives of those who dealt 
in millions back in 1925, of the mansions they built and the tower- 
ing buildings they put up, the hopes they so freely expressed for 
publication and the dream of empire they nursed as the floodgates 
of credit and cash turned Florida sand into gold. 

The famous banker commission headed Miami's government 
in 1924, having been re-elected the preceding year on the popular 
assumption that Miami in the hands of its five leading bankers 
could not fail to assure capital of a safe haven. How well founded 
was this belief! 

The mayor was Edward Coleman Romfh, president of the 
First National Bank, and today the only one of that group whose 
institution has survived. The mayor before him was Commission- 
er Charles D. Leffler (Miami Bank and Trust Company), and gen- 
eral agent in Miami for the Gulf Refining Company. The other 
commissioners were James H. Gilman (Bank of Bay Biscayne), J. 
E. Lummus (Southern Bank and Trust Company), brother of the 
first mayor of Miami Beach, and J. L Wilson (Dade County Se- 
curity Company), now dead. 

Nineteen twenty-four was the first of three big building years 
for Miami, when $17,038,154 in construction was started. The 
city then covered 8 1-3 square miles, about one-fourth its present 
land area, with the towns of Silver Bluff, Coconut Grove and Buena 
Vista clustered about it. The county offices were housed in a 
two-story stone building, begun in 1904, on whose bare and cheer- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

less site the present 27-story city-county building rests. The city 
government was conducted in the stone building now devoted to 
the police department, a structure designed in 1909. Two bridges 
spanned the Miami river within the city, one at Miami avenue and 
the other at Flagler street. 

Across the county causeway, Miami Beach was concluding its 
tenth year of corporate existence. It had first been linked to 
Miami by the long wooden bridge begun by the late John S. Col- 
lins in 1912 and completed the following year at a cost of $90,000 
with the financial aid of Carl G. Fisher of Indianapolis, the same 
Carl Fisher who had come to Miami to loaf but who remained to 
help fabricate out of mangrove swamps the foundations of today's 
Miami Beach. 

Miami Beach in 1924 dangled between bay and ocean at the 
end of a narrow strip of land, since cut through and bridged at 
Baker's Haulover to permit the tides to sweep upper Biscayne bay 
clean. Its municipal functions revolved about the wooden building 
north of Fifth street which houses the Miami Beach Athletic club. 
Smith's and Hardie's casinos drew the bulk of the bathers at south 
beach, while the Roman Pools, formerly the Casino St. John, caught 
the winter crowds from the two Fisher hotels, Lincoln and Fla- 
mingo, from the Wofford, the Breakers and the Pancoast. 

Louis F. Snedigar, former Stetson athlete, had succeeded T. 
E. James as mayor. John H. Levi, who handled the engineering 
when Fisher was filling in the beach and who later became presi- 
dent of the Miami Ocean View Company, headed the city coun- 
cil then as now, directing its affairs with infinite humor and good 

sense. Although its growth had 
been exceptional since 1920, 
Miami Beach building really took 
the biggest spurt in 1923 with 
$4,185,600 in new construction, 
mounting to $7,014,750 in 1924. 
The Miami Beach which added 19 
hotels in 1935, was beginning 
then to fear it was slightly over- 

During August, 1924, Miami 
had its best building month of the 
year with $3,578,980 in new per- 
mits, second in the South. The 
Clark Dredging Company began 
pumping in 1,000,000 cubic yards 
of sand and rock to form Bayfront 
park out of the bay bottom whose 
waters lapped almost at the front 
steps of the McAllister Hotel. 
Dozens of houseboats too infirm 
to move were burned or buried at 

John H. Levi 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

their moorings along what then was N. Bay Shore drive. 

Elser Pier, fishing and loafing center for years at the foot of 
Flagler street, finally was bought by the city under condemnation 
proceedings from Locke T. Highleyman for $375,000, although 
the owner bitterly protested the site had a speculative value of 
$1,000,000. The pier was leased for the season to Jack Cleary for 
$25,000, then destroyed. Meantime the white sand poured in un- 
der it, and the whole fill was finished by November. J. Gerry 
Curtis soon began to plant grass over portions of it. to still the 
clamor which arose from eating houses and homes into which the 
fine white sand was blown. Parking on the fill was started in 
January, 1925. 

William Jennings Bryan had returned to Miami from the 
turbulent 16-day Democratic national convention which nominated 
John W. Davis and his brother, Charles Bryan, for president and 
vice president. In a colorful speech from the Royal Palm Park 
bandshell, he predicted progressive Democrats and progressive 
Republicans would defeat Calvin Coolidge, and recounted his suc- 
cessful efforts to prevent the Democrats from condemning the Ku 
Klux Kilan. Before leaving on a speaking tour, he sold 280 scat- 
tered acres in Dade county for $72,250, retaining 90 acres. 

Fred L. Weede, Miami Chamber of Commerce secretary, was 
planning a 68-page booklet of 150,000 copies to mail during Oc- 
tober. E. G. Sewell, president of the chamber, advanced the slogan, 
"The Season Opens In November." A hurricane killed 80 on the 
Virgin islands. There were no further advisory notices. Van C. 
Swearingen, attorney general under former Gov. Sidney J. Catts, 
delivered the Labor day address in Royal Palm Park. Gus' Bath 
opened its new 930-foot pier at Palm Beach. It was destroyed four 
years later. 

Miami in September, 1924, was quick to shake off its custom- 
ary summer sloth. George E. Merrick sold five lots in five days 
for $5,500 in the former Merrick plantation west of Miami where 
the city of Coral Gables was born eight months later. The Miami- 
Palm Beach Company divided 1,000 lots within two blocks of the 
depot at Boca Raton and announced 5 and 10-acre farming tracts 
on 3,000 near-by acres 

United States Senator Duncan U. Fletcher, guest of John 
Gramling, opened Avocado week in Miami, predicted President 
Coolidge would not receive a vote of confidence from the people 
in November. The Herald editorially deplored the occasional 
wearing of golf knickers in the business district; was answered 
by two heated letters from knicker-addicts. The Sweetwater Ho- 
tel, $2,000,000, was announced for construction just west of Luna 
park on Flagler street by T. R. Knight and William G. Just. Dr. 
and Mrs. John DuPuis planned an $80,000 home in Lemon City. 

Miami was groaning about Florida roads. Parts of the Dixie 
highway, complained The Herald, "are paved only with good in- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

tentions." An antique ferry blocked the Melbourne-Kissimmee 
road, later forming the basis for the removal of the state road de- 
partment chairman. Judge H. B. Philips, when John W. Martin 
succeeded Gov. Cary A. Hardee. The ''Miami Theater" was be- 
gun by Paramount Enterprises on the old Airdome site. We know 
it as the Olympia Theater, 10 stories. 

Ground was broken for the First State Bank of Hialeah. Plans 
were prepared by Architect Martin L. Hampton for a $50,000 yacht 
club building on "filled land east of the Royal Palm Hotel." (The 
present Royal Palm club.) Five acres near the Florida East Coast 
railroad at Arch creek were sold for $10,000. Sixteen thousand 
acres in Brevard county changed hands for $220,000. Tatums ad- 
vertised Grove Park lots for as low as $3,000. The $90,000 Kreu- 
ger building in Stuart was started. 

Miss Laura Cushman announced the building of her private 
school at X. E. Thirty-eighth terrace, Buena Vista. Henry Cop- 
pinger. pioneer Miami horticulturist, died on his Miami river es- 
tate. The Belcher Asphalt Paving Company got a $23,119 permit 
for its present office building near the causeway. 

Cook and the Chevelier Corporation are doing here. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


IT IS a far cry from the magnificent Bayfront park which makes 
up the front porch of Miami today, to the casual lettering of an 
unsung draftsman who was drawing the original plat of Miami 
in 1896 and unthinkingly penned in the word "park" at a con- 
venient blank space on the line of the bay front. 

The bay front was not in fact a public park in the beginning. 
When James E. Ingraham came here to lay out Miami for Henry 
M. Flagler, after planning the cities of Tampa and Sanford, he 
cannily reserved from 10 to 60 feet above high tide all along the 
bay from the north city limits at about Thirteenth street around 
to the Miami river, and land on both banks of the river. The 
Standard Oil fortune that Flagler invested here was not made by 
leaving water front openings for competitors to land and store 
their products. 

Charles D. Leffler began shipping groceries from New York 
for his Miami store at the turn of the century. He found that he 
could save money by taking advantage of the water rates of the 
Mallory line into Key West, and bring his goods to Miami on the 
vessels of Capt. Dick Albury and others. The little schooners would 
come in to the front of one of the streets at the bay front and un- 
load, and Mr. Leffler's truck would pick up there and carry the 
merchandise to his store. 

Soon, he recalls, the movement became an epidemic, and 
envious checkers for the Florida East Coast railroad sat all day 
along the bay front under the hot sun and watched boats unload 
merchandise that might better, in their opinion, have come down 

in freight cars. One day the Flor- 
ida East Coast sent in a crew 
equipped with second-hand cross 
ties and barbed wire, and ran a 
three-strand fence from what is 
now Belcher property to the 
Royal Palm club at the foot of 
S. E. Second street, thereby put- 
ting a sudden stop to the 
schooner business along that part 
of the bay. 

About 27 little Lefflers, 
Worleys, Romfhs and others lived 
within a block or two in bay- 
front homes north of the present 
Columbus Hotel, and the new 
barbed wire fence resulted in 
scratched hides and torn britches 
as the children went to and from 
their wading on the edge of the 
bay. Tempers of George A. 

Frank B. Shutts 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

Worley, sr., and of Mr. Leffler finally dictated the purchase of 
wire clippers and one morning long stretches of the fence were cut, 
and the children romped through. But another railroad crew 
appeared with more crossties and more barbed wire. Soon after, 
the fence was cut again. So it went, back and forth, during 1901 
and 1902, until the fence was the center of a town row. 

The matter came to a head in a lawsuit against George 
Worley, in which the State Supreme court finally decided that the 
part of the bay front marked "park" on the original map belonged 
to the city of Miami, and the part left blank belonged to Flagler. 
From the center of old Seventh street to the center of Third street, 
north of the present Fifth street, was city property, and the re- 
mainder belonged to the Florida East Coast, and the Model Land 
Company, except for the site of Elser Pier at the foot of Flagler 

The city wanted very badly to get the bay front closer to the 
foot of Flagler street than the "park" which the Supreme court 
handed it, because the federal government promised to spend 
$100,000 to start a harbor if the city would build the docks. Tbe 
Florida East Coast railroad had entered into a contract with the 
United States to construct a turning basin and channel across the 
bay to the government cut, but after its completion of the rail- 
road to Key West, its interest in channels ebbed, and it refused to 
carry on the contract. The federal government found it could 
not get satisfaction out of the courts. 

Miami's only prospect for a harbor, therefore, lay in its own 
efforts coupled with what the war department was willing to do. 
Through Frank B. Shutts, who had founded The Miami Herald in 
1910 and was also starting a law practice, the Flagler interests in 
1913 gave Miami a three-year option to buy all the bay front from 
Flagler street to the P. & O. docks, including the channel and a 
spur track, for $415,000 in 5 per cent bonds. 

By then, however, S. Bobo Dean was in command of the old 
Metropolis, and he began a fire-eating crusade against the F. E. C. 
that soon had much of the town's population believing that this 
"greedy corporate monster" was about to devour them, body and 
soul. As a result, Mayor John W. Watson vetoed the bond issue 
ordinance and the Flagler spokesmen retired into their shells in 
St. Augustine. 

The city then began suit against the railroad and the Model 
Land Company to take the bay front by right of eminent domain, 
but A. J. Rose finally had to report failure. In 1917 the city of- 
fered the Florida East Coast $1,500,000 for the land from S. E. 
Second north to the P. & O. terminals, and got nothing but a curt 
refusal, by letter. After 15 years of bickering and litigation, the 
city and the Flagler estate reached an impasse where the trustees 
finally refused even to answer letters from the city or to treat with 
its spokesmen. 

The deadlock was broken in 1920 when Mr. Shutts, at the city 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

council's request, went to the Flagler trustees in New York and 
finally wheedled the trustees of the Flagler estate into selling the 
bayfront property for $1,000,000 in 6 per cent Miami bonds. The 
actual acceptance was made in Miami with Mr. Shutts, W. A. 
Blount, widely known Flagler attorney, S. P. Robineau as city 
attorney and Chester B. Masslich of New York, Miami's bond at- 
torney, conducting the negotiations. 

The site of Elser Pier at the foot of Flagler street, belong- 
ing to a company headed by Locke T. Highleyman, was offered 
to the city at this time for $175,000 but the city fathers were a 
little slow in accepting. When they found in 1924 that they had 
to have Elser Pier, they paid $375,000 for it at forced sale. 

Had the matter of the bayfront been permitted to drag two 
or three years more, until the boom got well started, there is no 
question that the Model Land Company and the Florida East 
Coast would not have parted with the site of the present park 
for anything like $1,000,000. In fact, it is doubtful if there would 
have been a park along Miami's bayfront today if the purchase 
had not been made just before the dawn of the boom. 

The germ of the park idea, planted by an anonymous drafts- 
man, lived through 40 years, of which half of it was passed in bit- 
ter squabbling between the city of Miami and the Flagler inter- 
ests. Credit and conditions on the eve of the boom enabled the 
city of Miami to create one of the world's finest parks in place of 
the scraggly shoreline where the children of the Lefflers and the 
Romfhs and the Worleys splashed so many years ago. 

And the fill which covered that shore line and created Bay- 
front park buried more than tangible evidence of nature's whims. 
It buried, probably forever, the animosity against the Flagler in- 
terests which all the preceding years of Miami's existence had 
nursed and fattened. 

Paced by the opening of the $62,000,000 Miami Shores devel- 
opment, north of Miami, preparation for the boom gathered speed 
after the first of September, 1924. 

All through the early part of that year, buying and selling 
of property by Miamians and the slightly swollen winter crowd 
had pushed up values in the more settled parts. Capitalists with 
money and ideas then began bidding for acreage which might be 
subdivided and improved after patterns laid down in Coral Gables, 
Miami Beach and lesser Miami subdivisions. 

So it was that Miami Shores came into being. It was the 
child of the Shoreland Company, which meant Mrs. E. S. Harris, 
Hugh M. Anderson, Roy C. Wright and the late J. B. Jeffries, re- 
cently chairman of the Everglades Drainage District. The present 
Miami Shores Village occupies a tract bought from L. T. Cooper 
out of his large holdings in the northern end of Miami. Altogether 
2,500 acres were pieced together for this development, which later 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

was even to reach into Biscayne bay and attach the island on which 
the exclusive Indian Creek Golf club now rests in isolated peace. 

Alex Riach returned in September from Italy, where he had 
studied architecture and landscaping for Miami Shores. A $2,000,- 
000 hotel was announced for a site on the bay just south of Arch 
creek. This somehow never took form. But it was forgotten any- 
way in the rush of buyers for the 12,000 building sites carved out 
of the Shoreland holdings. 

Elegant offices were opened with fitting ceremonies in the 
Shoreland Building, near the First National Bank, offices that 
have since been subdued to meet less spectacular require- 

After the water was squeezed out of values and the Phipps estate 
had salvaged what was left, Miami Shores emerged as a debt-free 
and highly improved municipality. Some say the boys of the orig- 
inal Shoreland Company spent too much money on their "front" 
downtown to have anything left for the lean years. 

The Miami Realty Board decided in September to erect a 15- 
story $650,000 building across from what then was the Central 
school property, subsequently acquired for the present federal 
building. The name since has been changed to Postal building. 
George W. Langford of the McAllister Hotel paid $200,000 ($4,000 
a front foot) for the strip of land between the hotel and the Elks 
club and began the 10-story McAllister addition to cost $1,500,000. 

Fifty-seven ballots were cast by Miamians in a School District 
No. 2 election approving $200,000 in bonds, $40,000 of which went 
to George E. Merrick in repayment for the Coral Gables Elemen- 
tary building. A. D. H. Fossey Real Estate Company added eight 

ments. Ten Cadillac touring cars 
and four de luxe busses were 
bought to assist the sales staff. 

The first opening early in 
December, with Mr. Jeffries as 
sales manager and Hamilton 
Michelsen directing the field 
operations, brought $2,509,000 in 
purchases. Thereafter the new 
Miami Shores offices had to close 
for several days to allow the 
clerical force to dig out from un- 
der the effects of the first sale. 
Of course, that was big doings for 
Miami. We lived to see the day, 
however, when more than $30,- 
000,000 worth of Miami Shores 
property was sold in a single 
day's campaign. 

Hugh M. Anderson 

Despite the frenzy of that 
period, Miami Shores somehow 
escaped the issuance of bonds. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

salesmen, one stenographer. The Fisher building, $127,000, was 
nearing completion at Miami Beach. 

Public resentment flared up against closing Ocean drive 
from the Firestone estate to Baker's Haulover. Sheriff Louis 
A. Allen posted armed guards on this long stretch of ocean-side 
road after a part of it had been torn up by scarifiers. The courts 
finally were asked to decide whether the Miami Beach Bayshore 
Company and the Tatums could move the roadway back from the 
high sandy ridge along the beach to a less expensive location near 
the bay. The Tatums contended they had built it originally. Wit- 
nesses declared it was constructed out of a public bond issue. By 
degrees the public became reconciled to losing its access to the 
ocean and the first thing anyone knew the ocean front was private 
property again and that part of Ocean drive was only a memory. 

In Miami, the public impatiently received the news that the 
new redwood water mains from Hialeah to Miami would not be 
completed until the first of 1925. These wooden conduits were 
advertised to last a lifetime and promised Miami and Miami Beach 
the first palatable water out of spigots. The redwood mains were 
replaced this year with cast iron pipe, after numerous .leaks had 

Civic clubs and private citizens complained bitterly about 
the condition of Miami's streets, torn up by an ambitious paving 
program, the laying of water mains and extension of the lines of 
the Miami Gas Company, newly acquired by the American Power 
and Light Company. The city commission was accused of going to 
sleep on the job. The city decided to double-track Flagler to 
Twelfth avenue while the paving was in progress. 

Miss Alice Brickell, first postmistress of Miami, was killed by 
a live wire at her Brickell Point estate. M. F. H. Koch planned a 
$1,600,000 hotel at N. Bayshore drive and Third street, but the lot 
still is bare. Walker-Skagseth's store was sold for $40,000. Miami 
Beach approved, 41 to 1, a $177,000 bond issue for water mains 
and other improvements. The beach residents, like Miamians, got 
their drinking water out of bottles until the mains were extended 
across the causeway. 

A. B. Hurst bought the northeast corner of Everglades ave- 
nue and the E. Dixie for $75,000, to put there a pharmacy, grocery 
store and Odd Fellows hall. Joseph H. Adams arrived to take pos- 
session of his new Belle Isle home. Dr. and Mrs. M. H. Tallman 
started construction on their $25,000 home in Grove Park. Jerry 
Galatis (Seven Seas restaurant) , bought a $20,000 house on South 
Miami avenue. 

To make room for widening of S. W. First avenue, the farmers' 
market was moved to the bank of the Miami river where the S. W. 
Second avenue bridge was to go. Frank Smathers sold 200 acres 
at the corner of Flagler street and Ludlum road for $200,000, hav- 
ing paid $170,000 for it a month before. The Florida East Coast 
railroad completed to Hialeah a spur that was intended to continue 
up the Miami canal to Lake Okeechobee. R. M. (Bob) Davidson, 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

first city manager of Coral Gables, directed the work. The first 
passenger train pulled into the Hialeah station in November, but 
the line was not built farther north. Later, it was continued around 
to rejoin the main line south of Miami and make a shuttle route, 
eventually dissipating the irritation of citizens held up at the Flag- 
ler street crossing by prolonged switching of freight trains. 

City Manager Frank H. Wharton predicted that traffic lights 
would be a success, as General Electric representatives arrived to 
conduct a signal survey. Hamilton Michelsen began carload ship- 
ments of avocados from Miami to California. The Macon Tele- 
graph editorially referred slightingly to Miami as a frontier town, 
harboring criminals and rascals. The Miami Beach aquarium final- 
ly was closed by James A. Allison, Carl Fisher's former Prest-O- 
Lite partner, when Miami refused his offer of the equipment. 

The addition to the old post office, the present home of the 
Miami Chamber of Commerce, was being rushed as Postmaster J. 
D. Gardner expressed the hope it would relieve congestion in mail- 
ing facilities by January. 

The nation then was waiting to see what the November elec- 
tions would bring forth. Clarence Darrow had saved Nathan Leo- 
pold and Richard Loeb from the chair for the "thrill" murder of 
14-year-old Bobbie Franks. Gen. John J. Pershing retired as gen- 
eral of the American armies. Red Grange was the sensation of 
the football world. John Phillip Hill of Baltimore discovered that 
2.75 per cent cider was illegal. The first victim was claimed by the 
new Florida electric chair. William Lee Popham, the oyster king, 
was indicted for using the mails to defraud, growing out of his 
oyster farms at Apalachicola, using a method of breeding later 
adopted by the United States government. 

On a bright, sunny day in September, two murders shook 
Miamians out of their lethargy. Mrs. Hattie Freckleton shot and 
killed her husband, Joseph, on First street across from the post 
office. She subsequently went free when Moman Pruiett, sensa- 
tional criminal lawyer from Oklahoma, pictured her as "the woman 
scorned" and an all-male jury agreed. The same day W. Y. C. 
Hume, president of the Tropical Realty Company, shot and killed 
Recio Celona in the South Miami avenue restaurant of his father. 
Hume claimed the younger Celona intruded in his home. He later 
was acquitted of murder. 

Julian Brain was convicted, sentenced to 20 years in prison, 
for the murder of Raymond Lee in a brawl. The Ashley-Mobley 
gang of Everglades bank robbers had shot their way out of several 
tight spots, robbed the Pompano bank, thumbed their noses at the 
law from the dank fastnesses of swamps that sheltered them. It 
was indeed a lusty period for Florida, the last frontier. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


WIPING out the Ashley gang of bank robbers and desperadoes 
in that fall of 1924 marked the end of one chapter of fron- 
tier Florida. Four bodies, sprawled dead beside the Dixie 
highway at Sebastian river bridge, closed the books on John Ash- 
ley and his chief lieutenants, a band which had terrorized the East 
Coast for more than a decade. 

Their last exploit was the robbery of the Bank of Pompano of 
$9,000 on September 12. Before disappearing into the Everglades, 
they sent a rifle bullet to Sheriff Bob Baker of Palm Beach county 
with the mocking message that they would meet him in the 'glades. 

Baker, the most intrepid peace officer Florida ever knew, soon 
was hot on their trail. After 10 days of crawling and wading 
through the swamps, Baker and his deputies got close enough to 
exchange shots with the outlaws. Three deputies were wounded, 
no captures were made. 

Nothing more was heard of John Ashley and his followers for 
nearly a month. Then, as Baker was about to conclude a spirited 
campaign for re-election, he got word that Ashley was going to 
try to escape up the coast to Jacksonville, where some of his kin 
lived. The night of their departure was November 1, when Baker 
was to make his last speech of the campaign in Lake Worth. He 
knew if he should drive up the coast to intercept them, the warn- 
ings would fly like wildfire. So he sent four of his deputies, in a 
strange automobile, to enlist the aid of Sheriff R. E. Merritt of St. 
Lucie county in setting a trap at the Sebastian river. 

A heavy chain was stretched across the bridge and a red lan- 
tern hung on it. Late at night, a motor car stopped there. It con- 
tained innocent travelers, but while it blocked the way, the Ashley 
car drove up behind it and was immediately surrounded by dep- 
uties. John Ashley, Hanford Mobley, Ray (Shorty) Lynn and Bob 
Middleton were caught before they had a chance to reach for the 
pistols or rifles with which they were armed. 

What occurred next will always, presumably, be shrouded in 
doubt. Shooting began and when the smoke had rolled away, John 
Ashley and his three followers were dead by the side of the road. 
The official report on the shambles related that before Ashley and 
his companions could be handcuffed, they had suddenly produced 
hidden weapons and made a break for liberty, the lethal shooting 
following. Not long after, however, two young men reported they 
had passed by the bridge and had seen four men handcuffed and 
in chains lined up along the side of the road. A few minutes after 
they had gone, they said, they heard shots. Many in St. Lucie county 
signed petitions that they believed the Ashley crew had been 

However that may be, the backbone of the Ashley gang was 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

broken. The body of Middleton, product of the Chicago under- 
world, was claimed by relatives. Back to the rude little burying 
ground at Gomez went the other three, back to Mrs. Joe Ashley, 
mother of John and grandmother of Mobley. The two, with the 
stranger, Lynn, who had no kinpeople, were buried beside the 
father, Joe, who had been shot to death early that year in a still 
raid which also claimed the life of Deputy Fred Baker. 

Ed and Frank Ashley, brothers of John, had died in 1921 
while running a load of liquor from Bimini. They disappeared at 
sea, believed, to have been victims of hijackers. Bob Ashley, an- 
other brother, was killed in Miami in 1915 when he tried to "spring" 
John, held in jail by Sheriff Dan Hardie while awaiting trial on a 
charge of murder. Laura Upthegrove, "queen of the Everglades" 
and John's sweetheart and gun-fighting companion, killed herself 
in a fit of rage several months after John's death, drinking poison 
at her filling station near Canal Point. Daisy Ashley, beauty of 
the family, also died by her own hand. Lesser members of the 
gang have scattered, or are in prison. 

Nothing out of the way marked the life of John Ashley until 
1911. He was a trapper and wood chopper, and one of his trap- 
ping companions was a Seminole, DeSoto Tiger. A dredge digging 
one of the state canals back of Fort Lauderdale hauled out the 
body of DeSoto Tiger one day, and John Ashley was accused of the 
murder. He escaped, traveled into the West, and returned about 
three years later, giving himself up to Sheriff George B. Baker, 
whose son, Bob, then was jailer. While his trial was in progress, 
however, Ashley again escaped, and began a reign of terror which 
is thought to include even robbery of a Florida East Coast passen- 
ger train. 

In 1915 the Stuart bank was robbed of $4,300 and an acciden- 
tal shot destroyed John Ashley's left eye. His need for medical 
care led to his speedy capture and he was lodged in Dade county 
jail, from which his brother Bob unsuccessfully tried to free him. 
The old charge of murder finally was thrown out, but John was 
sentenced to serve 17 Vo years in Raiford state prison for the bank 
robbery. He escaped, made and ran liquor back in his old haunts 
for three years, was recaptured in 1921 and returned to the prison. 

By escapes from various penal institutions, the augmented 
Ashley gang reassembled in 1924, after Mobley and a companion 
had again robbed the Stuart bank. The first major achievement 
after that was the foray against the Pompano bank, which ended 
so disastrously. 

Only "Old Lady Ashley" was left at the little home at Gomez, 
south of Stuart, out of all that fierce brood she mothered. Today 
even Bob Baker is dead, passing away recently from the effects of 
an old injury which resulted in the loss of one leg. He went quite 
peacefully beyond the power of that curse called down upon him 
by Mrs. Joe Ashley as she wept beside the graves of John Ashley 
and Hanford Mobley: "It's Bob Baker's work," she had exclaimed. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

"I hope he's paralyzed tomorrow and they have to feed him out 
of a spoon the rest of his life." 

Bob Baker, during his last years, told a picturesque and slight- 
ly gruesome story of that final chapter. John Ashley for years had 
worn a glass eye in place of the one destroyed by accident during 
the first Stuart bank robbery. It had long been Bob Baker's threat 
that he would yet wear Ashley's eye as a watch charm. 

After the Sebastian bridge affair, the glass eye found its way 
into Baker's possession. But before the funeral, Baker recalled, 
Laura Upthegrove sent word to him that if he didn't replace that 
eye she would "crawl on my hands and knees through hell to get 

"I knew that I'd have her to kill if I kept it," he remarked 
ruefully, "so I sent it back." That was perhaps the only time in 
his life that Bob Baker backed down before the threat of death. 

, . . they thought nothing of spending a million dollars during the boom for this 
Douglas entrance to Coral Gables. — Brouer Photo. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


BILLED as "Miami's Master Suburb" in 1924, the present city of 
Coral Gables was the achievement principally of one man, 
George Edgar Merrick. This same George Merrick has beaten 
his way back into a dominating position in the greater Miami real 
estate field today, after the collapse of the boom and several years 
of adversity had condemned him, some thought, to the limbo of 

Coral Gables was the largest single unit in the boom. Roughly 
speaking, $150,000,000 in real estate sales were made there, and 
$100,000,000 was spent under the personal direction of George 
Merrick to create it. It was a city fully planned, and its essential 
features committed to paper by Merrick himself five years be- 
fore a lot was sold and nine years before it was incorporated. To 
that one fact alone, the creator today attributes the city's steady 

It may interest those who play over the Coral Gables Country 
club or the Biltmore golf courses to know that those once were 
glades where the Merrick vegetable fields were located. Long be- 
fore he became one of the central figures of the boom, George Mer- 
rick and the Coral Gables plantation of 1,000 acres were the largest 
producers of fruit and vegetables in south Florida. 

The name "Coral Gables" has its history. His father, the Rev. 
Solomon Greasley Merrick, bought the original homestead of 160 
acres between what is now Ponce de Leon Plaza and Balboa Plaza. 
He was a great admirer of Grover Clevelend, whose home, Gray 
Gables, was famed throughout the country. When the elder Mer- 
rick named his home, built out 
of what they called coral rock, it 
became Coral Gables, after the 
residence of the former president. 
The plantation, then the subdivi- 
sion, then the city, inherited that 

George Merrick was edu- 
cated at Stetson, and spent one 
year in New York studying law. 
But his father began to fail in 
1909 and he returned to manage 
the plantation. He gradually 
evolved the belief that in Coral 
Gables was the place to build 
homes for the average person who 
wanted to live in south Florida all 
the year, as opposed to the other 
school of resort thought being 
worked out in the winter estates 
of the wealthy along the ocean's 

That idea was translated to George E. Merrick 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

paper about 1916, soon after his marriage. A city for perma- 
nent residence by the average man was laid out in detail. At first, 
in keeping with the name, all houses were to be built of rock, not 
actually coral rock but what can loosely be called that. Later, 
however, the lack of sufficient masons forced a change. The 
style was Spanish, the young Merrick having observed in trips 
through the West Indies and to Cuba that this type had been 
evolved for all-year residence in tropical countries. 

To him, as he began the moulding of Coral Gables, George 
Merrick drew Denman Fink as artistic adviser and Phineas Paist 
as architectural director. These were the first of a large group 
of nationally known architects and artists who were to have a 
hand in the production of the hotels, homes and business district 
of that city. 

Ever a naturalist at heart, Merrick already was making the 
place "blossom like the rose" and 100,000 trees and shrubs were 
taking root. The original grapefruit and orange groves were 
maintained as much as possible, and even today, where the trees 
have received any care, they bear profusely. 

Around Merrick in the winter of 1924 were the principal fig- 
ures of his development. There was "Doc" E. E. Dammers, who 
was real estate counsel for Merrick and first mayor of the city. 
In full page advertisements he predicted that in eight years the 
center of the metropolitan Miami district would be west of Coral 
Gables. He died as his dream of empire stretched north, not west. 
There was Telfair Knight, first president of the Bank of Coral 
Gables, and chief financial lieutenant to Merrick. There was 
Stafford Caldwell, who had come down from north Florida to be- 
come assistant general sales manager. 

F. W. Webster, Miami Goodyear manager today, had quit the 
telephone company to become executive manager of Coral Gables, 
after opening an exchange there with 300 initial customers. Alex- 
ander Ott, probably the best showman south Florida has, was made 
sports director of Venetian Pool, newly opened. 

In the new Coral Gables Country club, Jan Garber and his or- 
chestra made many a heart flutter with "When the Moon Shines in 
Coral Gables," one of the theme songs of the boom. Pete Des- 
jardins was showing the patrons of Venetian Pool how he won 
second in diving at the Paris Olympics. Five-year-old Jackie Ott, 
now a student at Miami Senior High school, was back from ap- 
pearing with Bert Lytell in the motion picture, "Born Rich," and 
was continuing his sensational (for that age) diving and swim- 
ming. Ann Booker was another of the young stars of that pool, 
the girl who came home not long ago to die with a broken back, 
price of high-diving fame in Vienna. 

Cyrus F. Wicker returned that fall from Spain and Morocco 
with 100,000 pieces of Spanish tile for the houses and buildings. 
New construction worth $4,696,000 was going up, including the 
Casa Loma Hotel, the bank building, the old post office and the 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

administration building of the Coral Gables Corporation, where 
Sam's filling station, the new post office and the new George Mer- 
rick offices hold forth today. The million-dollar entrance gate at 
Douglas and S. W. Eighth street was yet to come, but plans were 
even then drawn for additional hotels, in which were to be housed 
the thousands brought to Coral Gables from Northern cities by 
busses, by special Clyde Line boats and Seaboard Air Line trains. 

Coral Way at that time extended east as a street only to 
Douglas road. It was made a white way from Douglas to Le Jeune 
road, and late in 1924 Merrick began to cut the present Coral Way 
through toward Miami, to join with Third avenue. It followed 
a path beaten long before by Indians into the trading post of 
Fort Dallas, and later followed by early tourists eager to see the 
vast Merrick groves. 

As the year 1925 opened, Merrick was putting down the rails 
for the Coral Gables street car system which he had to extend from 
a point on Flagler street in Miami out to Ponce de Leon bouvelard 
and then around a loop within Coral Gables. The swan's neck 
curve in the boulevard as it goes from Tamiami Trail to Flag- 
ler street was caused by Merrick's inability to buy his way straight 
through the Stadler grove, which was then being subdivided. The 
rapid transit line down Coral Way, put out of business by a storm 
last November, was joined to this system by Merrick during 1925. 

Originally 3,000 acres, the Merrick development was to grow 
to 10,000 acres at the peak, reaching far down to the bay and 
surrounding Coconut Grove. The Coconut Grove section was put 
on sale about this time at $1,290 a lot and up. Announcement of 
the new Biltmore Hotel and Country club was followed by the open- 
ing of several sections near it, in the Country club district. The 
Crafts section south of Coral Way and east of Ponce de Leon boule- 
vard was being reserved for a colony of artists and craftsmen. 

In Miami W. E. Walsh and Frederick Zeigen were talking 
about an open-air university, to whose palm-shaded classes some 
20,000 students might come. Such conversation later was trans- 
lated into the University of Miami, in Coral Gables. Gen. Gerardo 
Machado, newly-elected president of Cuba, was visiting Alberto 
Ruiz in Coral Gables, awaiting his inauguration and the "Tragedy 
of Cuba." 

Sightseeing boat excursions from Elser Pier down the bay and 
up the Coral Gables canal were preliminary to the "40 miles of in- 
land waterway" with which home-makers were soon to be lured. 
Sales amounting to $10,613,854 had been made in the first 10 
months of 1924. George Merrick, returning late in the fall of 1924 
from a financing and sales trip to New York, hoped to do better the 
next year, but even he, dreamer that he was, had no conception of 
the fantastic heights to which he was to lead his followers in 1925. 

Today, nothing but pride plays on the face of George Mer- 
rick as he talks of Coral Gables. It is turning out as he planned 
it 20 years ago, a city of homes. His hair is white, and the recent 
years have not dealt kindly with him, but the great frame which 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

was hardened on the rocky groves of his father has not drooped. 
He, like his city, has had to change his sights a little, but he's still 
there on the firing line. 

The return of Calvin Coolidge to the presidency of the United 
States with the largest Republican majority in history was like a 
spur on a fresh horse to the Florida real estate market. Dull and 
uninspiring even in the hour of his great triumph, President Cool- 
idge somehow opened the spigots of national buying to a golden 
flow that was to continue until 1929 dried it up. 

Several other factors gave Florida new headway in November, 
1924. John W. Martin, thrice mayor of the bustling city of Jack- 
sonville, was elected governor to replace Cary A. Hardee, con- 
servative small-town banker. Martin was elected on a promise 
to build highways, then the crying need of the state. 

In these same November elections Florida changed her con- 
stitution to prohibit income and inheritance taxes, in a frank bid 
for wealthy immigrants from other states. She also voted for a 
reapportionment of the legislature, giving south and central Flor- 
ida more representation, Dade county three representatives instead 
of one. 

The very air was electric with promise of good times. The 
stock market soared, with men rioting in their scramble for stocks. 
General Electric hit 300. Alfred E. Smith was governor of New 
York. Franklin D. Roosevelt was fighting for his life in the warm 
waters of a Georgia spring. The Miami Herald sent Paul D. Mason 
to open a Jacksonville office and 
report on the steady stream of im- 
portant men and women coming 
through that single entering gate, 
bound for Miami. Fred L. Weede 
of the Miami Chamber of Com- 
merce also opened a Jacksonville 
bureau. On one Sunday The Her- 
ald advertised for sale real estate 
worth $17,650,000. 

In the middle of December 
the Simmons Holding Company 
sold 2,170 acres north and west 
of the old Dixie highway for $1,- 
085,000, the largest sale in Miami 
since the original formation of 
Miami Shores, which the tract ad- 
joined. The Donnelly Realty 
Company, buyers of the Simmons 
tract, refused $3,000,000 for the 
property at one time, with $1,- 
000,000 in cash, finally saw its 

Gov. John W. Martin 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

values dwindle into 1927 and 1928. The tract lay between Opa- 
Locka and Biscayne park, along the Biscayne canal, and part of it 
is under development now as Brandon Park. Associated with J. P. 
Simmons in the venture were John Brand and E. W. Bebinger, new- 
ly located at that time in the Gramling building on Flagler street 
under a 99-year lease at $44,000 a year. 

After a visit and the proper build-up, John McEntee Bow- 
man, principal figure in the great Bowman-Biltmore chain of 
hotels, announced at a banquet for civic leaders and newspaper- 
men that he would build a $10,000,000 Biltmore Hotel in Coral 
Gables. George E. Merrick was to be associated with him. The 
hotel was to be started in January, to open the following year. It 
was the fate of the Biltmore to go up in the face of ruinous prices 
and a building material embargo and to open as the boom col- 
lapsed. New Orleans bondholders of the hotel finally found an 
answer to their prayers for succor in Col. Henry L. Doherty, whose 
organization has concluded its third year of successful manage- 

Gov. Cary A. Hardee cut the ribbon that opened Gandy bridge, 
linking Tampa and St. Petersburg, under the admiring gaze of 16 
state governors accompanying him on a tour of Florida. A crowd 
of 75,000 viewed the ceremony, as the longest toll bridge in the 
world eliminated a 60-mile drive between the two principal cities 
of the West Coast. The governors came on then to Miami, were 
properly feted, left singing its praises. We did things up right in 
those days, with a bottle of Scotch under every pillow T and cases 
of champagne and sparkling Burgundy at every banquet. 

Fulford-by-the-Sea was beginning its herculean feats of pub- 
licity with double-page advertisements from M. C. Tebbetts, presi- 
dent of the Florida Cities Finance Company, declaring that the 
ultimate cost of the project would be $60,000,000. He addressed 
the Miami Ad club on 'Truthfulness in Advertising," was duly ap- 

This development is only a memory today, along with Fulford 
University and the million-dollar auto speedway. Its name has 
been changed to North Miami Beach. 

Another monster development was that of G. Frank Croissant, 
late of Calumet City, who acquired 1,193 acres south of Fort Lau- 
derdale for $1,250,000, began Croissant Park with ornate gates 
and wide streets. Opening sales the last of December were an- 
nounced as $3,184,000. 

George H. Earle, jr., president of the Pennsylvania Sugar 
Company, was fighting desperately against the issuance of $1,770,- 
000 in Dade county bonds, part of which was for extension of the 
Tamiami Trail, then only a stub out 15 miles or so beyond the pres- 
ent Miami limits. Earle, father of the present governor of Pennsyl- 
vania, insisted the Trail would flood his land unless many openings 
were cut. He was joined by W. I. Evans, young attorney then begin- 
ning the Everglades fight that was to last nearly a decade. The 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

Pennsylvania Sugar Company was described by Fred Weede as 
"the biggest industry in this section'' and there was a disposition 
on the part of some to stop the Trail rather than to endanger the 
sugar company "and put its $5,000,000 investment in danger." 

Citizens protested bitterly against green fees on the municipal 
course being hiked from 75 cents to $1.50. T. W. (Tubby) Palmer, 
then a noted player and member of the city golf board, admitted 
rather brutally that the increase was planned "to keep the dubs 

The largest all-cash sale in Miami up to that point was when 
Val Duttenhofer, shoe manufacturer of Cincinnati, bought the 
Clyde Court apartments for $500,000 from the Sailors brothers, 
who had built it in 1917. It was named for Clyde Sailors. 

H. H. Mase paid $200,000 for the Gralyn Hotel about this 
time, the owner having been O. B. Sailors. Built in 1907, it was 
originally named the Everglades. 

Heavy rain in north Florida isolated Miami for two days. 
Claude C. Matlack hinted darkly that "influences" were holding 
back the building of the Dixie highway. W. S. Maxwell, secretary 
of the Miami Motor club, finally reported it was possible to get 
through the Dixie from Jacksonville to Miami by daylight only. 
The other route, over the Conner's highway, south from Okee- 
chobee around the east side of the lake, was made passable with the 
help of J. W. Young's Hollywood equipment. Conner's highway, 
costing $2,000,000, was just opened, linking West Palm Beach and 

Hollywood started the fourth miniature golf course in the 
United States. Ernie Seiler became head coach at Miami High 
school and the football team began to improve. James E. Ingra- 
ham, president of the Model Land Company, a Flagler subsidiary, 
died in Atlanta. The present Ingraham building was named for 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


LUSTY south Florida had outgrown its public utilities early in 
1924. The American Power and Light Company answered 
the demand for outside capital and first moved into Miami in 
March with the purchase of the Miami Beach street railway and 
the electric plant at the bend of the county causeway. On this 
and later acquisitions it was to spend many millions for expan- 
sion and improvements, which only mountebanks during the depths 
of the depression contended were superfluous. 

Purchase of the Miami Beach Electric Company by this great 
utility system was followed by double tracking across the cause- 
way between Miami and Miami Beach, where the viaducts then 
were being doubled in width by the county. George C. Estill, 
who today holds the presidency of the Florida Power and Light 
Company, was head of the Miami Beach system when it was taken 
over from the Carl G. Fisher interests. 

On the day when Calvin Coolidge was elected president of 
the United States the American Power and Light Company an- 
nounced it also had bought the Miami Electric Light and Power 
Company from the Flagler estate, of which William R. Kenan, jr., 
was trustee. This small utility system was started 28 years before 
with a Diesel engine in the old Royal Palm Hotel, an engine that 
frequently required the combined muscle of many of the towns- 
people to start. 

With the announcement came the further disclosure that 
American had bought the Southern Utilities Company with plants 
as far north as St. Augustine and Palatka and extending over most 
of the eastern part of Florida. The whole system became the Flor- 
ida Power and Light Company on December 28, 1925, when S. R. 
Inch was made the first president. H. H. Hyman, eight years with 
the M. E. L. & P. Co., was made general manager of the south- 
ern division and Estill became general superintendent. In that 
same year Joe H. Gill came to Florida from Texas and was made 
vice president and general manager. He succeeded Inch to the 
presidency in the trying days of the depression. 

As 1925 dawned the giant generating plant at Davie was yet 
unbuilt. The principal sources of power were the Miami river 
plant of the old company and the causeway plant at Miami Beach. 
Three substations, at Buena Vista, Coconut Grove and Little River, 
were constructed for $75,000. The two power plants were joined 
by cable, and high tension lines were laid up the beach and out to 
Hialeah. The white way on S. W. Eighth street from Miami ave- 
nue to Fourteenth street was started. The first street car was run 
down the new Second avenue line. 

The Miami Gas Company was the second of the major util- 
ities to be absorbed by American Power and Light. It was taken 
over from the St. Louis Central Power and Light Company, which 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

held it only briefly after it got too unwieldy for the receiver, George 
Moore, the father-in-law of Banker James H. Gilman. The plant 
was started in 1906 by Howard M. Van Court, who operated it un- 
til war prices forced the company into receivership in 1919. 

The new owners spent $650,000 in 1924, adding to the equip- 
ment and extending feeder lines through the north and west part 
of Miami, the pipes going down as the city paved the streets. A 
million dollars followed in 1925 and in 1926 the gas company ex- 
penditures rose to $1,500,000 as building created new demand. 

But this was small change compared to the amounts required 
by the power company. About $1,250,000 was spent in the dving 
months of 1924, about $6,500,000 in 1925, and $28,000,000 was 
poured into Florida by American Power and Light for its new com- 
pany in 1926. This 1926 budget was the largest construction pro- 
gram ever carried out in the United States by a single operating 
company. Shades of "Brewster's Millions!" In one week the com- 
pany spent $1,700,000. The Davie plant, built in 1926, cost $5,000,- 
000. Every source of telegraph poles from Texas to the Atlantic 
seaboard was sending its products into Florida. The railroad em- 
bargo forced the company to charter its own ships, and George 
Estill recalls today that nearly 10 per cent of these poles were lost 
as barges unloaded at sea the vessels shut out from the blockaded 
Miami harbor. 

The South Atlantic Telephone and Telegraph Company be- 
gan in 1924 to find its resources too limited to meet the demand. 
Frank B. Shutts, the president, had addressed a public hearing 
and received a favorable vote to increase telephone rates to permit 
expansion. But even that unprecedented response was not enough. 
Southern Bell, with its farflung facilities, took over the South At- 
lantic just before the new year broke, on December 6. 

Amid much public impatience, the redwood water mains were 
connected in January, 1925, and soon after pure and unsalted water 
flowed through the mains of Miami and Miami Beach. Other local- 
ities, such as Coconut Grove, previously had established their own 
water systems. The town of Buena Vista was incorporated, said 
T. V. Moore, especially to obtain adequate drinking water, and in- 
cidentally to escape "heavy" Miami taxes. 

Water storage tanks at N. W. Seventh avenue and Thirty-sixth 
street, where Moore park later was built, were started, to hold 
2,500,000 gallons. Miami Beach began a 500,000-gallon storage 

Other utilities were on the move. Radio Station WMBF, 
whose call letters were translated by effusive announcers into 
Wonderful Miami Beach, Florida, was installed that winter in the 
new Fleetwood Hotel by Jesse Jay, son of Webb Jay, auto vacuum 
tank inventor. It was licensed as the most powerful station in the 
United States and was the forerunner of WIOD, which the younger 
Jay later set up on Nautilus island. 

The Tropical Radio Telegraph Company, subsidiary of the 
United Fruit Company, let a contract for $237,000 to build the 437- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

foot aerials at its station in Hialeah, the equipment which fared 
so badly in the hurricane two years later. 

The city of Miami that winter decided to "radiocast" the night- 
ly concerts of Arthur Pryor, who had returned for his eighth sea- 
son of band concerts in Royal Palm park. Fred Mizer of the Elec- 
trical Equipment Company was to handle the radio work. Who 
can forget the heart-tingling voice of Rachel Jane Hamilton, soloist 
with Pryor, as she sang "Holy Night" to 6,000 children on Christ- 
mas eve, or "Dixie" or "Way Down Upon the S'wannee River"? 

It was sweet, that is, unless a seaplane was warming up its 
motor on the near-by bay front, or one of the planes was swooping 
down over the bandshell with a mighty roar. The Miami Beach 
city council finally passed an ordinance to keep aviators from spoil- 
ing the Lummus park concerts. The conflict in Miami between 
aviation and aesthetics vanished with the new Bayfront park and 
the coming of more mature aviation. 

Miami was preparing then for her future greatness in the air. 
Congress enacted a law allowing the post office to contract for 
carrying air mail at 10 cents an ounce. The government had tried 
unsuccessfully to run the mail across country through the winter, 
on planes equipped with skiis. Congressman Joe Sears announced 
from Washington that an air mail line from New York to Miami 
might be obtained. 

Francis M. Miller and some air enthusiasts formed the Miami 
Chapter of the National Aeronautical Association and laid plans 
to get the 1926 international air meet for Miami. The association 
asked Dade county for a landing tract preparatory to seeking an 
air mail line into New York. The Greater Miami Airport Associa- 
tion, which has been responsible for most of Miami air meets, was 
not yet born. 

Edmond David Girardot, who called himself an airplane 
manufacturer from England, told Miamians that he would manu- 
facture $2,000,000 worth of planes here in 1925, and would estab- 
lish a line to Cuba. Two great dirigibles, the Shenandoah and the 
German ZR3, excited the ambition of those who ultimately got a 
dirigible base located here — after both these ships of the air had 
been destroyed. The ZR3 was being flown to the United States, 
which had purchased it from Germany. The Shenandoah was just 
completing a cross-country flight. 

Edward S. Huff, inventor of the magneto used on 4,500,000 
Ford automobiles up to that time, was thrown out of court when he 
sued Ford for royalties. At his home in Miami, he was told that 
his action for $10,000,000 came too late to be entertained seriously. 

In a Florida land boom there was advertising enough for any 
kind of publication, even a tabloid. The addition to the popula- 
tion of restless people in a strange setting provided the soil in 
which a sensational press could exist. In 1924, as now, Miami was 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

open for the temporary "white mule" jolt of the tabloid. 

Cornelius Vanderbilt, jr., who turned informer on his own 
social set, arrived here unheralded one drenching night in October, 
1924, when more than eight inches of rain fell in 12 hours. It was 
a memorable downpour, flooding the sidewalks knee deep, filling 
the nearly completed Kress basement in Flagler street, short-cir- 
cuiting power lines and stopping nearly every automobile that 
tried to brave it. 

In The Herald office when young Vanderbilt appeared, work 
was going on by candlelight until electrical connections could be 
restored. He was a sensation five minutes after he walked in. For 
he promised that he and Barron G. Collier, advertising magnate 
and owner of 1,700,000 acres in Lee and Collier counties, would 
build a railroad through the Everglades from Miami to Fort Myers 
and would start a steamship line from Miami to New Orleans. Col- 
lier previously had proposed one-day passage to Nassau on his Flor- 
ida Interisland Steamship Line. 

In those days the name of Cornelius Vanderbilt still was linked 
in the public mind with the family's wealth. He published two 
tabloid newspapers in California and was held likely to make 
money in his own right. He was 26 years old. 

He even went so far that rainy night as to declare that 200 
miles of steel rails and six locomotives already were loaded for de- 
livery to the Florida Navigation and Railroad Corporation, headed 
by Collier, who controlled the street car advertising of the nation. 
Vanderbilt estimated that $2,000,000 would be spent on the enter- 
prise. Only Collier's word was needed, he declared, to start the 
actual railroad construction. The word never came. 

But a month after the Vanderbilt arrival, while Miami was 
still buzzing about the incipient railroad, Vanderbilt announced 
he would start a tabloid in Miami, and he began to advertise a prize 
of $1,000 for a name for the new publication. While waiting for 
the name to materialize he occupied himself in soothing the cham- 
ber of commerce with stories about what he and his friend, Bar- 
ron Collier, soon would be doing. Incidentally he got numerous 
citizens interested financially in his newspaper venture. 

In between times, when he was not motoring at high speed 
back and forth across the continent with a companion and financial 
adviser, John W. Brodix, Vanderbilt was penning pieces for his 
California papers that had an inimical effect when reprinted here. 
Chiefly he "panned" the Florida climate and expressed the view 
that Miami real estate values were "inflated." A particularly apt 
touch was the statement that "it's dangerous to go swimming here 
(Miami) because of the sharks rushing through the foam," and 
"it's hot-hot-hot, just as though the ocean were boiling at midday." 
Such expressions, duly recorded in the Miami press, caused Van- 
derbilt to explain that he was suffering from a bad cold and was 
not really himself when he wrote the offending articles. 

The Vanderbilt newspaper, called The Illustrated Daily Tab, 
began publication January 12, 1925, with 40 pages. The front page 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

carried the picture of the winner of first prize for the name, Mrs. 
Floris Lambert, shown starting the presses. The plant was in the 
former home of the afternoon Metropolis, just east of the Central 
fire station on Flagler. The Miami advisory board consisted of 
J. 0. Harley, Lon Worth Crow, E. C. Gaunt, Clarence M. Busch, C. 
C. Ausherman and T. B. C. Voges. The national advisory board of 
Vanderbilt Newspapers, Inc., was headed by Alfred I. duPont, 
who recently died at his Jacksonville estate. 

The Tab tried all the tricks of the tabloid press to gain a foot- 
hold and while business was on the upgrade, of course, it held both 
advertising and circulation. It began to fade, however, in Febru- 
ary, 1926, and on June 16, 1926, it vanished with the announce- 
ment that E. A. Inglis, then a real estate operator and now an of- 
ficial of the First National Bank, had been appointed receiver. 

Vanderbilt passed quickly from the Miami mind and the sen- 
sationalism which his kind of paper retailed left only a dark brown 
taste in the public mouth. He is chiefly recalled as a pretender, 
trying to use his tabloid to compel respect, and failing. One out- 
growth of his efforts was the increased use of local pictures in The 
Herald, decided upon by O. W. Kennedy, the managing editor, as- 
a policy which has remained to this day. 

Another boom journalistic product was the afternoon Miami 
Tribune, recently reincarnated into the tabloid daily of the pres- 
ent prosperous period. It is a far cry from the scholarly efforts of 
Clayton Sedgwick Cooper, first editor of The Tribune, to the cur- 
rent output under The Tribune name. 

The Miami Tribune started early in 1924 with N. B. T. Roney as 
its first backer. Mr. Cooper, today president of the exclusive Com- 
mittee of 100 at Miami Beach, occupied the editor's chair and Leo 
F. Reardon was president of the publishing company. It had its 
plant in the two-story building in First street north of the court- 
house and carried the designation, "The People's Paper," at the 
masthead. It was gentle, readable, but never able to overcome 
the commanding position in the afternoon field of the News-Me- 
tropolis, acquired by James M. Cox of Ohio from S. Bobo Dean, 
long-time foe of Florida East Coast domination in local politics. 

R. M. Monroe, now handling advertising and publicity for the 
city of Coral Gables, ran a widely read column in The Tribune un- 
der the title of The Lyre. Frank P. Fildes succeeded Mr. Cooper 
in charge of The Tribune and through 1925 it seemed to prosper. 

The chill winds of November, 1926, withered The Tribune to 
tabloid size, and in February of the following year it shrank to a 
weekly, ceasing publication entirely in August, 1927. Subsequent- 
ly the name was reborn on Miami Beach on a weekly schedule and 
became a standard tabloid daily in November, 1934. 

These publications, with such exotic flowers as Miami Life, 
under Wen Phillips and Fred Girton, helped The Miami Herald 
write the saga of the boom. But none of them, not even The News 
with its one 504-page special, could approach The Herald's lofty 
place at the very top of the world's newspapers. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


BREAKING up of some famous old groves around Maimi into 
subdivisions was a minor tragedy of the boom. The groves 
were destroyed, and for the most part the lots remaining still 
are nonproductive. 

This process of subdividing citrus and avocado groves took a 
decided spurt late in 1924, as the bidding for acreage overtopped 
the yield from producing trees. One of the largest to be cut up 
was that of T. A. Winfield, on the bay at Seventy-ninth street, 
which became Shore Crest. Twenty-eight years before, Mr. Win- 
field had started his trees at a place then considered far out in the 
country. He prospered and took an active part in Miami commu- 
nity life. His grove was noted for having the largest avocado tree 
in south Florida. Forty-one Shore Crest lots were sold on opening 
day for $132,750, and that was long before the Seventy-ninth street 
causeway was born. 

The George B. Cellon residence on N. W. Seventh avenue, 
south of Thirty-sixth street, a dignified square stone house set amid 
spacious grounds and protected by stone walls, today is about the 
only reminder of the extensive holdings in that neighborhood which 
made Mr. Cellon one of the largest growers of early years here. 
The house resisted all the advances of the boom, and still has a 
somewhat belligerant look, as though it suspected every spectator 
of being a designing speculator. 

Part of the former Cellon grove became Suwannee Park late 
in 1924, put on the market by Ralph Bullock. The Frank P. Ken- 
nedy estate on West Flagler street 
was closed and subdivided by 
John B. De Voney under the name 
of Tierra Alta. Davenport & 
Rich began their first subdivision, 
Seville, on N. W. Seventeenth 
avenue. Mrs. Alice Baldwin sold 
10 aires of her old homestead on 
N. W. Twenty-Sixth street and 
Seventh avenue to Charles Z. Al- 
len for $25,000. One street north 
was The Hub, where C. Dan 
Wallace was advertising lots at 
§1,500, "in the center of all so- 
cial and commercial activity." 

D. L. Hartman, "strawberry 
king" of Dade county, was still at 
his plow among the fertile acres 
on the present north boundary of 
Miami where he had, according to 
his own statement, amassed a 
healthy profit in 1923 from eight 

acres of strawberries. Booms E. E. (Doc) Damme«s 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

then held no thrills for him. Joachim Fritz, Bavarian dairy- 
man whose cows once ranged over an extensive acreage in the 
northwest section, was in the real estate business. His home was 
on the site of the present unfinished Fritz Hotel, in whose empty 
corridors and silent rooms laying hens and mushrooms are the only 
paying guests. Last reported running a hotel at Silver Springs, 
Joachim Fritz helped write boom history around and beyond the 
Allapattah section, where he located when he first arrived in south 
Florida, on foot, from Baltimore. 

From his former dairy company we got such names as Mel- 
rose Gardens, not far from the hotel, which sold late in 1924 for 
$45,000. E. D. Noe & Son began selling lots in near-by Melrose 
Heights, with the promise that a street car line would run out 
Thirty-sixth street "soon." 

Curtiss-Bright opened their new Country Club Estates, the 
present debt-free city of Miami Springs. John A. Campbell start- 
ed Paradise Park at N. W. Twenty-seventh avenue and the Miami 
river, euphemistically described as "near the center of town." Two 
80-acre tracts north of the new race track in Hialeah were sold 
for $120,000; Dr. C. E. Tumlin paid $100,000 for 120 acres north 
of the track. Five acres on the railroad near Arch creek brought 
$10,000. R. R. Bailey, former California developer, paid $250,- 
000 for 6,270 acres west of Davie, and in 1936 may still be found 
fighting to get agriculture out there free from the menace of water 
or drouth. 

The community of Little River decided at that time not to 
incorporate, waiting to see if Miami would annex the territory. The 
meeting which reached this money-saving decision was presided 
over by S. P. Robineau, who had returned to Miami after the war 
and his invention of the antiseptic, Zonite, to practice law and in- 
vest in real estate. 

The corner at Miami avenue and N. W. Twenty-seventh street 
was bought for $40,000 by T. J. Fletcher and J. C. Johnson, who 
started an ice factory there. J. Ovid Brooks reported that the 
Masons had bought property at N. E. Second avenue and Twenty- 
first street for $85,000 and planned to construct a temple at a cost 
of $750,000. This seems to have been a promotion dream, as no 
construction of the kind took place. Webb Jay acquired three and 
a fraction acres on the bay in Lemon City, south of the Tee House 
Plantation for $60,000. 

Everyone, it seemed, wanted acreage to subdivide, but this 
was only a taste of what was to come a few months later, in the 
spring of 1925. The tide of subdividing ran west even faster than 
north, until the swamp lands of the Everglades stopped the build- 
ers of sidewalks and ornamental gates. The forlorn settlement of 
Sweetwater, 10 miles out on the Tamiami Trail, is proof that even 
muckland couldn't halt some enterprise, for sidewalks and Spanish 
houses sprang up there, too. 

The first subdivision in Miami, as we know, was started by B. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

B. Tatum, on the west bank of the Miami river and named River- 
side. He built a bridge on the site of the present Flagler street 
span to get to his new development, "away out of town," as he de- 
scribed it. By the end of 1924, however, subdivisions were blos- 
soming like mushrooms around the junctions of Red Road with 
Flagler street, S. W. Eighth street and Coral Way, six miles west 
of Riverside. 

Miss Mabel Hammond, probably the outstanding woman de- 
veloper of the boom, paid $152,000 for 40 acres on the southeast 
corner of W. Flagler street and Red road, on which the Hammond 
Realty Company opened Flagler Terrace, and 10 acres across Flag- 
ler street on which Westgate was laid out. The corner was de- 
scribed as Miami's busiest transfer point of the future. Two years 
before, this property had been bought for $28,000. It was part 
of the extensive holding of W. R. Comfort, whose Seminole Fruit 
and Land Company had acquired it nearly 40 years before for 
$2.75 an acre. 

With these two subdivisions and Winona Park, west of there 
on Flagler, the new addition to Winona Park across the canal, and 
Normandy Beach, Miss Hammond directed the development of 450 
acres during the boom. As Mrs. Walter Sielin today, she recalls 
that she arranged to have the building restrictions on Flagler Ter- 
race removed by 1935 to permit the construction of skyscrapers, 
as she didn't want to feel that she was impeding the growth of 

Miss Hammond was handling a man's job before she could 
vote, managing the public utilities in two Indiana towns. She came 
to Miami on a visit to Mrs. Tom Norfleet in 1916, and remained to 
set up the first tax books in Broward county. During the war she 
was engaged in clerical work at Chapman Field, and later in Fort 
Benjamin Harrison. 

Following the armistice, Miss Hammond worked for T. J. 
Pancoast in the development of the upper beach, and her father 
located a real estate office on Fifth street at Miami Beach when 
only the post office and the Miami Ocean View Company build- 
ing fronted on that street. Her experience in real estate was 
turned to more ambitious use when she put Normandy Beach on 
the market for Henry Levy, and when she later induced Mortimer 
Gryzmish and Henry Levy to see the vision of a causeway at 
Seventy-ninth street and they bought the two Normandy Isles on 
which the present causeway lands. These islands in upper Miami 
Beach were bought first by A. P. Warner and Mead Brothers 
through Miss Hammond for $55,000, and sold by her to the actual 
developers the following year, 1923, for $250,000. 

Getting back to Flagler street, we find Flagler Lawn spring- 
ing up as a neighbor to the Hammond subdivisions, with lots priced 
at $1,000 and up. Flagler Manor came into being near-by. 

Farther south, at what for many years has been known as the 
Wildcat corner, Red Road and Tamiami Trail, J. H. Pearlman paid 
$300,000 for 100 acres of the southwest quarter. "Doc" Dam- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

mers increased the vogue out there with Central Miami. "Get a 
laugh out of this," he advertised. "In eight years the central part 
of Miami will be west of Coral Gables." One of the last frontiers 
was Coral Way Park, at the end of Coral Way and Red Road. F. 
B. Miller & Co. started lots there at $700 each. Recently building 
has been resumed even in that area. 

Coral Gables had a competitor for the yacht trade in Flag- 
ami, at the western entrance to Miami, where Flagler street curves 
around to meet the Tamiami Trail. The boat Colonel actually car- 
ried 200 passengers from the bay up the Miami river and through 
the Tamiami canal to Flagami, and the price of lots at once rose 
50 per cent. The developers were agitating for a whiteway belt 
from Flagler to the Trail, and planned the hotel which today is the 
first major building to meet motorists coming from the west. 

Brooklawn was sired by Lee & Brooks, Inc., on S. W. Twenty- 
second avenue. Tatum Brothers paid $200,000 for Coral Nook, 
25 acres between Twenty-eighth and Thirtieth streets on the Trail. 
Vedado, south of the Trail and still enjoying its own water system, 
was advertised by Warren Brothers as having a whiteway on every 
street — lots from $2,500 to $5,000. The present town of South 
Miami was started on 1,600 acres under the nursing of J. R. Clute 
and associates. Even Fred W. Pine was president of a real estate 
company and for the time being allowed Herman Swink to be 
county solicitor. 

All of these subdivisions, and many more, remain today, some 
emaciated and rattle-boned, others prosperous, all inviting build- 
ing as Miami takes up the march which those busy promoters fore- 
told. Many, of course, never did hold any promise. Such as the 
development of Flamingo, in which a lot was given away by Wal- 
ter R. Early for each five-year subscription to the promised publi- 
cation "Happenings in Florida." Flamingo was vaguely located 
as between Kissimmee and Orlando. Many other such free offer- 
ings were made, the catch being that the sucker was expected to 
pay $15 or so for an abstract of title. The lot and abstract together 
usually cost the promoter about $5. 

There was Wyldewood Park, between Miami and Dania, built 
around a "$2,000,000 banyan tree." The price of the tree remains 
a mystery to this day, but the tree is still there, by the side of the 
new Federal highway. Royal Palm Estates was an early blooming 
monstrosity. It was south of old Royal Palm park, below Home- 
stead, and its principal claim to distinction was the boast by its 
promoters that 10 railroad tracks soon would run from Jackson- 
ville right into Royal Palm Estates. 

Okeechobee was being boomed as the "Chicago of the South" 
by Charles L. Henck Company, whose salesmen were able to point 
to undoubted investments in the Everglades making this appella- 
tion not so bizarre. Brown Company of Portland, Me., was trying 
to get water control on 70,000 acres of muck in Palm Beach county 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

to grow peanuts for paper blanching. W. J. (Fingy) Conners was 
building a sugar mill near his newly opened toll road from Okee- 
chobee to Twenty Mile Bend, along the eastern shore of the lake. 
Barron G. Collier had bought his vast empire in what is now Lee, 
Collier and Hendry counties, and was pushing the Tamiami Trail 
south from Fort Myers. Henry Ford, Senator Coleman duPont, 
the Van Sweringen brothers of Cleveland, Harvey S. Firestone, J. 
S. Cosden, the oil magnate, the Pennsylvania Sugar Company, all 
came to financial grief bucking the Everglades, but they were full 
of hope and flushed with money then. The city of Okeechobee at 
the key point for Everglades commerce was not without promise. 
The promises simply were too good. 

The lack of an adequate courthouse and consequent delay in 
handling the clerical work of the boom contributed somewhat to 
the fever heat to which the boom ultimately rose. Even in the fall 
of 1924 the two-story stone building, which had served as the seat 
of county government for 20 years, was considered much too small. 

The county bar association and the grand jury made formal 
statements demanding a new courthouse. J. W. Carey, chairman 
of the county commission, finally headed a group to make definite 
plans for a building, which Mitchell D. Price believed should not 
exceed seven or eight stories. Unhappily they started too late. 
Long before the present 27-story county-city obelisk reared its head 
to become the tallest structure in the South, the machinery of courts 
and clerks was badly clogged. 

Business establishments sprang up that winter like toadstools 
after a rain. The $1,500,000 El Comodoro Hotel opened with S. D. 
McCreary, recently Miami safety director, as manager, and T. R. 
Knight's Tamiami Bank on the main floor. The Bank of Allapat- 
tah had opened in the northwest section with County Judge Frank 
Blanton as president. 

John Seybold, pioneer bakery owner, let a $1,000,000 contract 
to add eight stories to the Central Arcade, known today as the Sey- 
bold Arcade. A four-story addition to the Bank of Bay Biscayne 
was nearing completion, but the present 13-story building was not 
planned at that time. The Vanderpool building on S. E. First ave- 
nue was finished. The Vail Arcade on E. Flagler street was being 
pushed to four stories at a cost of $120,000 to house the Hirsch- 
Fauth-Harrison Furniture Company. Fulford-by-the-Sea was spend- 
ing $20,000, a mere bagatelle, to enlarge its Flagler street offices, 
and the Hollywood Land and Water Company put extensive ad- 
ditions to its Flagler street showrooms as the Young organization 
began its third year. 

W. M. Burdine's Sons Company was finishing the six stories 
of what was then, as now, the finest department store in the South. 
Plans for a $500,000 Y. W. C. A. downtown were approved by busi- 
ness men, but the building never took form. David Letaw sold his 
Flagler street drug store at a reported price of $50,000 to Liggett's 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

and his son, Harry, who runs a drug store in Coral Gables today, 
was sent to an Atlanta medical school. 

The Miami Tire Company built a $250,000 plant on N. E. Sec- 
ond street. 

A. A. Ungar had come to Miami from Atlanta in 1919, and was 
joined here the same year by M. S. Altmyer, a native of Georgia, 
who had lived for some time in Jacksonville. The Ungar-Buick 
Company grew from the activities of these men, and late in 1924 
the present plant of Ungar-Buick was opened at a cost of $100,000. 
In a bid for the downtown dining trade, F. D. Van Vechten started 
the Marine Roof Garden atop the Professional building with one of 
those boom breakfasts which were supposed to begin at 9 o'clock 
but rarely produced food before noon. Freeman & Sons built their 
$50,000 garage in Buena Vista. "Pop" Groover of the Groover- 
Stewart Drug Company put a $25,000 addition to his plant. Thomas 
J. Peters began the $150,000 Halcyon Arcade west of the Halcyon 
Hotel, "to supply the great demand for shops and offices on Flag- 
ler street." 

Harvey A. Seeds Post of the American Legion decided to build 
a $100,000 home on Eighth street and the bay front, on the site of 
an old hospital the post had acquired. The post stayed there 10 
years, moving recently to the new home in the Tee House Plan- 
tation tract, one-time pride of Billy Ogden and later owned by Ed 
Ballard, on the bay at Sixty-fifth street. The present tax collector, 
Harry Goldstein, had just succeeded Cliff Reeder as commander 
of the post, late in 1924. 

The Hassell-Dupre apartments were constructed at this time 
where Flagler street jogs at Seventeenth avenue, costing $175,000. 
Abe Aronovitz and Leon Lischkoff paid $100,000 for a building 
at N. W. Fifth street and Second avenue. The East Coast Jobbing 
House, founded 40 years before in Key West, opened on N. W. 
Third street with Louis Wolfson as president and Mitchell Wolf- 
son as general manager. 

The Railey-Milam Hardware store celebrated its fourteenth 
year in Miami, partners being F. G. (Pat) Railey, Marcus A. Milam, 
Gaston Drake and R. M. Miller. Railey, Milam and Drake also 
were together in the Milam Dairy and the Drake Lumber Com- 

The Midtown Realty Company took a 99-year lease on the 
Cheatham and Meeks block, across Miami avenue from Burdine's, 
at an annual rental of $65,000. The property had been leased 
earlier in the year by the owners, J. H. Cheatham an'd Carl Meeks, 
to David Afremow and B. F. Schoenberg. After the boom, of 
course, the owners got it back. 

The wonder of Miami then was the Kress basement, 10 feet 
below water level and the only one downtown. Fred T. Ley & 
Co. built it despite gloomy predictions that it would be half full 
of water most of the time. 

There were many signs that business was exceptional. The 
overflow of Christmas packages was so great that Postmaster Gard- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

ner erected two sheds on the high school grounds to take care of 
it. Miami was twenty-fourth in building among the cities of the 
United States. Some genius for figures estimated that the city in 
one year used 400 miles of awning, and that 7,000 cars of lumber 
worth $4,000,000 had been consumed during 1924. 

James Cash Penney and James Deering arrived in December, 
breathing confidence, the former to go to his Belle Isle home and 
the latter to his magnificent estate, Vizcaya. Wrote a commenta- 
tor of that day: "In Miami Mr. Penney is known and esteemed 
for the pleasing approachability of his personality." This was 
some time before the City National Bank In Miami had opened and 
closed, and Mr. Penney's "approachability" had disappeared. 

Fourteen New York bankers were brought to Miami by A. E. 
Fitkin Company, owners of the Pinellas County Power Company, 
which later became the Florida Power Corporation. They were 
entertained by Banker E. C. Romfh, by E. G. Sewell and Frederick 
J. Osius, and were properly impressed with the soundness of in- 
vestments in Florida. The First National Bank held $15,049,571 
at the close of 1924, and the Bank of Bay Biscayne boasted $11,- 
000,000. The Miami Bus Company was carrying from 15,000 to 
20,000 passengers a day in the 160 passenger automobiles then in 
use. Remember the electric shock when you reached out to grasp 
a jitney bus door handle on a hot day? 

At Miami Beach, N. B. T. Roney was planning to spend $1,- 
000,000 to put up the Roney Plaza Hotel. John S. Collins, who had 
come to the beach many years before in a fruitless effort to grow 
coconuts, announced that he would return to his former home in 
New Jersey no more. James A. Allison let a $500,000 contract to 
John B. Orr for Allison hospital. It was built on a made island in 
upper Indian creek, to insure isolation and quiet, and was later re- 
named St. Francis hospital. Work began on the King Cole Hotel. 
Julius Fleischmann planned an $18,000 clubhouse for polo friends. 
With 33 hotels and 80 apartment buildings, Miami Beach estimated 
it could care for 25,000 visitors, providing they didn't all come at 

Up the coast from Miami, the Florida East Coast railroad fin- 
ished a $1,000,000 roundhouse at New Smyrna. The $125,000 
Pelican Hotel was started at Stuart with John E. Taylor and W. I. 
Schumann handling the bonds. The $50,000 casino at Fort Pierce 
beach was under way. The towns of Daytona, Daytona Beach and 
Seabreeze were preparing to merge into the one city of Daytona 
Beach. As in many other Florida coast resorts, the urge then was 
for a name containing "beach" or "sea" or "ocean." There was 
real estate gold in them there frills. 


. . . tallest public building in Florida is this $2,000,000 county-city building 
at Miami. (inset) The old court house that served through the boom. 


$ $ $ 


ALMOST by accident, Hollywood-by-the-Sea became a city. Its 
founder and first mayor, Joseph W. Young, began it as just 
another subdivision, but almost before he knew it he had a 
$20,000,000 municipality on his hands. 

Young decided in 1919 that his Indianapolis crew of real es- 
tate salesmen could improve the shining winter hours best in Flor- 
ida, particularly Miami, where there was some talk of real estate 
possibilities. Accordingly, Young bought and sold several sub- 
divisions in Miami during 1920 and 1921, and then reached out for 
bigger things. He acquired most of the land for Hollywood from 
the Allsobrook interests of Dania in May, 1921, and started on this 
unoccupied pine land to construct a bigger and better subdivision, 
figuring that Miami soon would reach out to touch it. 

His smartest move was to induce Frank C. Dickey, then a 
Miami Beach councilman and former United States engineer in 
charge of Miami harbor, to join him. Streets, sewers, sidewalks, 
light and water plants and other public works costing between $15,- 
000,000 and $20,000,000 were built under Dickey's direct super- 
vision. Probably the finest F. E. C. railroad station south of Jack- 
sonville was put up and advertised extensively. 

The first part of Hollywood-by-the-Sea, as it was then called, 
sold like hot cakes, and Young's next step was to fill in 1,000 acres 
of swamp land along the ocean and subdivide it. He had surveyed 
the adjoining Lake Mabel for a deep water harbor in 1923, and 
the rapid disposal of his pine land lots forced him to hatch his 
harbor idea to give added pull to the property sales on the new- 
filled area. Nine dredges, 300 
trucks and seven steam shovels 
were at work in Hollywood early 
in 1925 as a fleet of busses began 
bringing customers from all over 
the East and Middle West. 

Young probably was the first 
Florida developer to use the mo- 
tor bus extensively. First, he 
brought clients from Miami, 17 
miles away. Then he found he 
could lure passengers in from 
other parts of Florida, and final- 
ly he was running busses on reg- 
ular schedule from his ornate of- 
fices in New York, Chicago and 
other remote cities. From 30 to 
50 busses were in use, including 
the slightly ridiculous tallyho 
with its red-coated footmen. He 
bad h cruising houseboat named 
the Jessie Fay, built on the Miami 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

river for $200,000, and devoted it to the more subtle cajoling of 
large investors. 

The backbone of the city is Hollywood boulevard, one of the 
widest streets in Florida. On the western end is the former Hol- 
lywood Hills Hotel, built and opened late in the boom at a cost 
of $750,000 and now occupied profitably by the Riverside Military 
Academy. On the eastern terminus at the ocean's edge is the beau- 
tiful Hollywood Beach Hotel, which cost $3,500,000 and was 
opened in January, 1926. 

Along the Hollywood boulevard one finds the city hall, the 
building of the First Hollywood Bank, the Park View Hotel, the 
Great Southern Hotel and the Hollywood Country club, whose re- 
movable roof and shimmy dancers were the sensations of 1925. All 
these and many more were built by Young as the profits from sales 
and resales pyramided his assets to dizzy heights. By the time 
the boom started to subside, he could look with satisfaction upon 
a city of 2,500 residences, 13 hotels, 63 apartment buildings, two 
schools and nine churches in addition to the business section. 

It was a peculiarity of Young, the builder, that he distrusted 
and avoided contracts and most of this development became the 
personal responsibility of Dickey, who is now the city manager 
of Hollywood. Probably the only major contract that Young en- 
tered into cost him his city. As the boom was fading, Young cast 
about in desperation for some means of completing unfinished im- 
provements so he would have something to sell. He contracted 
with the Highway Construction Company of Ohio to build more 
than $2,000,000 worth of streets and sidewalks, and pledged his 
tangible assets to pay for it. 

Unhappily for Young, Hollywood property in 1926 could not 
be revived even with such artificial stimulants as the new harbor. 
So by 1930, the thousands of lots and other property owned by the 
Young interests, including the Hollywood Beach Hotel, were as- 
sumed by the creditors. These interests merged into Hollywood, 
Inc., on which much of the future of Hollywood rests today. 

The harbor deserves special mention. The aged Gen. G. W. 
Goethals, builder of the Panama canal, was brought to Hollywood 
in 1925 by Young to make a harbor out of Lake Mabel, which was 
separated from deep water in the Atlantic only by a narrow strip 
of land. The name of Goethals was all Young wanted; he expect- 
ed Dickey to direct the digging. The general never got geared up 
to boom tempo and ultimately departed without having added 
much to the harbor, except to inspire the numerous salesmen then 
throwing out to the public the lots surrounding the harbor site. 

The outcome we can see today. But Young found the job too 
big for his shrinking purse, and in 1927 the cities of Fort Lauder- 
dale and Hollywood were joined in a harbor district by legisla- 
tive act, were bonded for $4,000,000, and the work proceeded. 
Otherwise, it was whispered at that time, Young would have fallen 
afoul of the United States government for using the mails to de- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

fraud had he not delivered a deep water harbor as per his adver- 

Regardless of the methods or the hysteria of those days, Holly- 
wood became a splendid community with good government dat- 
ing from 1925. As evidence that it had fundamentally strong 
foundations, we need cite only that the First Hollywood Bank was 
one of the very few small town financial institutions in south Flor- 
ida that came through the boom and hasn't closed since. This was 
the only bank in Hollywood, started by Young to finance his mush- 
rooming companies. That it did not blow up in a cloud of ruined 
depositors like so many others may be laid in part to the fact that 
the First National Bank of Miami helped guide its course, and in 
part to the very obvious fact that the boom did not convert Holly- 
wood's future into its past. 

It looks like old home week in Fort Lauderdale these days, 
with G. Frank Croissant, W. F. Morang, A. G. Kuhn and other 
giants of the boom returning to their former stands and picking up 
development of water front lots right where they left off 10 years 

Croissant Park was the largest and most spectacular of the 
boom exploits in Fort Lauderdale. It occupies most of the south- 
central part of the city and is cut by Andrews avenue, that broad 
roadway which angles off from the Federal highway toward the 
center of the business district, through wide expanses of vacant 
lots, past the demolished ruins of the Croissant Hotel. 

Croissant was a dynamic salesman and developer. He formed 
Croissant Park out of 1,193 acres, bought for $1,250,000 late in 
1924, and it soon was sold out. The proceeds of these sales later 
went into a new subdivision north of Fort Lauderdale, named 
"Croissantania." He labeled it "My Masterpiece" in lavish adver- 
tising but it actually was the downfall of the builder of Calumet 
City. After years of residence in Spain, Croissant is back at work 
in Fort Lauderdale development again. 

Scarcely less remarkable was Lauderdale Isles, north of Las 
Olas boulevard, which leads out to the ocean from the heart of 
Fort Lauderdale. Like most of these seaside subdivisions, it was 
based on the "water front lot" appeal. The water front was pro- 
duced by digging ditches or canals through these various subdivi- 
sions, and thereafter postal authorities could not arrest you for 
advertising "water front property" in the unsuspecting cities of 
the nation. 

Lauderdale Isles is distinguished today by the bridges which 
hang out over the canals with scant benefit of connecting roadway 
on the north side of the boulevard. It was a boom product of Wil- 
liam F. Morang & Son, following his successful promotion of Lau- 
der del Mar, today that city's best ocean front section. 

The bridges and the canals were part of a plan to produce 
1,000 water front lots, by digging the canals between long strips 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

of subdivided land, two lots and a street in width, and joining them 
with the waters of the bay, the sound or Middle river. Recently 
most of this property has been dug out from under the jungle growth 
which mantled it during the depression. P. A. Wells and associ- 
ates of Chicago bought nearly 700 lots in the west section of Lau- 
derdale Isles, and H. H. Davock and associates of Detroit took over 
the remaining lots to the east. Some day, perhaps soon, the bridges 
will lead somewhere and the canals will help the lots regain some 
of their value. 

We suggest that a shrine be erected by these developers to 
perpetuate the name of C. G. Rodes, West Virginian, who started 
the subdivision of Venice in 1925 and still is working at it. He is 
credited with originating the idea of making a lot more attractive 
by putting water in front of it. The low, marshy lands which lie 
between the business part of Fort Lauderdale and the sea lent 
themselves admirably to this scheme of development. 

The late Thomas N. Stilwell was another big figure of Fort 
Lauderdale's boom; not so big physically as his brother Horace, 
but more active in real estate. In 1920 he started Idlewyld, on New 
river sound, still one of the best residential sections. In 1925 he 
put Riviera, west of Idlewyld, on the market and sold it out in 48 

The years of inactivity ended in 1934 when Thomas Stilwell 
cleared off one of the attractive little islands south of Las Olas 
boulevard and got some houses started on it. Then he began on an- 
other weed-matted island, and at the time of his death last De- 
cember was making notable contributions to the signs of progress. 
His widow is associated with Dr. Shalor Hornbeck and others in 
carrying on the island improvements. 

The canal-in-front-of-your-door plan was carried on by Mor- 
ang and E. B. Hamilton, both of Boston, in Rio Vista Isles in 1925. 
This development followed the shore line toward Lake Mabel, now 
Port Everglades, and was entirely completed in 1926, after the 
boom was ended. Morang's last effort of the boom was Lauder- 
dale Harbors, around the north end of Lake Mabel. He is back 
in Fort Lauderdale specifically to reopen Rio Vista Isles. 

Practically all of Fort Lauderdale is taking on new life. Even 
Chateau Park is about to awaken from its death-like sleep. Start- 
ed by Harrison McCready of Miami, it occupies relatively high land 
in the northwest section and is being eyed today for a building pro - 
gram that may make it another Riverside. Only Croissantania 
seems doomed to perpetual rest. 

Rio Vista, put on in 1922 by C. J. Hector, and Virginia Park, 
product of A. G. Kuhn's efforts, form substantial portions of the 
city's framework today. Kuhn has returned recently from a pro- 
longed visit in Mexico City. He is a brother of Count Byron Kuhn 
de Proray, noted archaeologist. 

The largest tombstone of the boom in Fort Lauderdale is the 
Wilmar Hotel skeleton, intended to be a seven-story hotel, but left 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

with only the frame completed when the boom began to collapse. 
It was owned by William Marshall, who used $180,000 in profits 
from land sales to start it. He was forced to stop late in 1925 and 
the property subsequently was obtained on tax certificate by H. R. 
Marsh of Miami. Recently it was announced that Robert H. Gore, 
former governor of Puerto Rico, has bought the Wilmar. He de- 
clared he acquired it because it is an "eyesore" and he expects to 
complete it. 


$ $ MIA MI MILLIONS $ $ $ 



THE shimmying shoulders of Gilda Gray, shaking over the glass 
dance floor of the Hollywood Golf and Country club, were 
the sensation of south Florida as the boom got under way — 
sort of a fumigated mixture of Minsky's and the French Casino in 
a day when a fan dancer would have been locked up in jail. 

Night life and entertainment was much simpler in the winter 
in 1924-25, with fewer people to please and less money than now 
to lure. The shimmy queen, born Maria Michalski, even then was 
beginning to show the despoiling effects of time, but she packed 
them in that winter. Much of the charm of the Hollywood resort 
was derived from the graceful ballroom dance team of Grace Kay 
White and Ralph Wonders. 

"Hot spots" were limited and gambling was under strict con- 
trol. John Olive was the first big gambler of Dade county, and for 
many years his Seminole club in the old officers' quarters of Fort 
Dallas catered as discreetly to the patrons of the Royal Palm Hotel 
as Bradley's does to the wealthy visitors of Palm Beach. Local 
people were not permitted to gamble, and Olive was known and re- 
spected as a gentleman as well as a gambler. 

Shortly before the boom got under way, John Olive built what 
has become the Palm Island club in collaboration with Locke T. 
Highleyman, and there also gambling was confined to visitors who 
wanted excellent food and plenty of chips. At about the same 
time, Ed Ballard of French Lick Springs fame opened the old Tee 
House Plantation, present home of the American Legion, as a 
gambling resort. Later he took over the Palm Island club through 
the heated period of the boom. 

On near-by Hibiscus Island, the Club Lido, branch of the same 
name in New York, opened its more modest $20,000 place — built 
in 20 days — as the new year of 1925 got under way. 

"Oklahoma Bob" Albright publicized himself by singing in 
luncheon clubs that fall, then opened the Roundup at Sixty-first 
street and the bay. Remember his "Follow the Swallow Back 
Home?" Evelyn Nesbit Thaw sought a cabaret site in downtown 
Miami, but was refused. Some thought it would hurt the commu- 
nity to let her operate within sight of that monument to the dead 
Stanford White, the Halcyon Hotel, whose general outline the noted 
architect had sketched for the builder. She was later to find a 
refuge at the Silver Slipper in the northwest section of Miami, 
where the once-famous Fritzi Scheff sang that winter. 

The Coral Gables Country club was a favorite with dancers, 
as Jan Garber and his orchestra made the moon over Coral Gables 
immortal. Tina and Ghirardy were a colorful dance team on the 
palm-fringed dance patio of the club that winter. Over at the 
Venetian pool was the younger Henry Coppinger wrestling an al- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

ligator. We do not know that it was the same 'gator he wrestles 
today, however. 

Ben Bernie and his "lads" played at the Wofford Hotel, whose 
owner, Mrs. Tatem Wofford, boasted she had opened the first ho- 
tel in Miami Beach in 1916. The great rambling Royal Palm Ho- 
tel began its twenty-ninth season New T Year's day with a ball de- 
scribed as "brilliant," but which we might consider somewhat 
stodgy. The Urmey Hotel, another aristocrat, started its season 
in December. Don Lanning was a hit at the Park Theater. Jimmie 
Hodges initiated his $75,000 "Follies" supper club in Hialeah, with 
Lew T Hampton as the featured singer. Kid Canfield, the reformed 
gambler, delivered a well attended lecture on the evils of games 
of chance. 

Much other amusement was available in Hialeah. By the mid- 
dle of January the new $750,000 racing oval of the Miami Jockey 
club was ready to open. In the stables were such horses as Wise 
Counsellor, who had defeated the French marvel Epinard, and In 
Memoriam, who had bowed to Zev. A crowd estimated at 17.000 
packed the new clubhouse and grandstand for the opening Jan- 
uary 15. 

The Miami Jockey club was created out of local capital, for 
the most part. Joseph E. Smoot of Buffalo had been in Miami the 
year before, thrilled to the prospects, interested his friend, Nor- 
man E. Mack of Buffalo, the Democratic national committeeman, 
in helping to finance a race track. Miami men of importance 
joined, with A. J. Cleary as the first president of the corporation. 
Now the steward for the state racing commission, Cleary was suc- 
ceeded in the Miami Jockey club presidency by Smoot and in turn 
took over the post of vice president and secretary. James H. 
Bright of the Hialeah Curtiss-Bright interests became treasurer. 
Horse racing began with pari mutuel betting and ran for three 
years until the Florida Supreme court ruled such wagering illegal. 

The fourth greyhound season opened in Hialeah that winter 
with Joe Blitz the reigning favorite. The first night racing was 
started in January, 1925, by O. P. Smith of the Miami Kennel club, 
inventor of the mechanical rabbit. Previously, all dog races were 
run in the afternoon at the Hialeah track. Many today will recall 
the time before they put muzzles on the racers and it was not 
uncommon to see a fight start between leaders somewhere along 
the track, allowing a rank outsider to sneak home with victory. 

The Spanish game of jai alai also drew good crowds in Hialeah, 
in the old fronton that was wrecked in 1926. Movies were being 
made in the Hialeah studios, leased to Pathe Exchange for the film- 
ing of "Black Caesar's Clan." They even had a balloon ascension 
and parachute drop in Holleman Park as part of the winter amuse- 

Night golf with phosphorescent balls was being tried at Hol- 
lywood, where Gene Sarazen had taken up the duties of profes- 
sional after losing the national pro title. The fourth miniature 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

golf course in the United States was built in Hollywood to lead 
the spread of the craze which bloomed so suddenly and died so 

Gene Tunney came to Miami Beach early in 1925 after out- 
pointing Jeff Smith in New Orleans, to further his plans to meet 
Jack Dempsey for the heavyweight championship of the world. 
Still a frequent Miami visitor, Gentleman Gene then was light heavy- 
weight champion and developing fast. 

It may not come directly under the head of amusement, but 
William Jennings Bryan started in January to deliver his cele- 
brated sales lectures on the glories of Coral Gables. George Mer- 
rick contracted to pay him $100,000 yearly, half cash and half 
property, for his services. Speaking from a runway built over the 
waters of the Venetian pool, the Great Commoner and master 
orator cast an added spell on Miami's Master Suburb that any other 
promoter would have parted with an eye to get. Bryan then had 
been a Miami resident for nearly 15 years and that winter he and 
Mrs. Bryan celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary. 

Miami Beach decided it should protect its birds and according- 
ly enacted an ordinance requiring all cats to wear bells. We do 
not recall that it was actively enforced, as shortly there were too 
many other things to occupy the official minds. Miss Ruth Wood- 
all won the Miami bathing beauty contest that winter to represent 
Miami at Atlantic City. The Miami Anglers club on N. Bayshore 
drive was a haven for fishermen, with the late beloved Edward 
Seiffert in the secretary's chair. 

Arthur Wynne of Mountain Lake, N. J., was credited with in- 
venting the cross-word puzzle to amuse his children. Carl Holmer 
of the county judge's office announced at the turn of the year 
that he had married 1,800 couples in Miami since 1918 as his 
contribution to the expansion of the city. 

The name of Biscayne Boulevard was not original with the 
present magnificent north-and-south thoroughfare in Miami, but 
was first bestowed upon Thirty-sixth street late in 1924. Hamil- 
ton Michelsen and the Thirty-sixth Street Improvement Associa- 
tion were ambitiously planning a 100-foot roadway from Hialeah to 
the ocean, with a causeway across the bay, the whole to be known 
as Biscayne Boulevard. 

Mr. Michelsen had a paternal interest in Thirty-sixth street. 
He was responsible for its building about 1912, to reach his home 
in the Everglades, then the first house this side of Lake Okeecho- 
bee. He was under some fire in the early days for having the long- 
est "one-man" road in Florida stretching to his door. Later, when 
James H. Bright developed his sheep and cattle ranch on the banks 
of the Miami canal, the foundations of Hialeah were laid and 
Thirty-sixth street became its principal motor link with Miami. 

The Thirty-sixth Street Association was very active at one time 
in getting deeds from property owners for the new width. A com- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

mittee composed of G. S. Fletcher, A. M. Willets and George A. 
Gillam made advances to the county to do the paving in the event 
all property owners signed up to provide the new width. But the 
plans were a little too rich for the blood of that section, even in 
the boom, and the plan gradually faded from mind. 

Clifton Downs was another development that thirsted to con- 
nect Hialeah with the ocean. Far out at Douglas road and 109th 
street, Clifton Downs was selling lots even in 1924 at $750 each 
on the strength of the dream road and causeway. The new cause- 
way finally was built at Seventy-ninth street, at the insistence of 
T. A. Winfield, who once owned what became Shore Crest. 

We think we have congestion in Miami streets during the peak 
of our winter seasons, but the sudden descent upon Miami in the 
winter of 1924 strained its facilities to the breaking point. Condi- 
tions at the Flagler street crossing of the Florida East Coast rail- 
road were described as "intolerable." To dispose of the freight 
hauled in by mile-long trains, the F. E. C. had to switch back and 
forth almost constantly across that street. It was common all 
through the day and night for Flagler street to be packed with 
several hundred motor cars for as long as 15 or 20 minutes, their 
profane drivers, red-faced and impatient, heaping enough curses 
upon the unhappy railroad to curl the rails. More roads, more 
bridges, more waterways were the framework on which the boom 
was draped, and the urge for their building was very compelling. 

Frank H. Wharton, Miami city manager, asked Santa Claus 
at the 1924 Christmas tree for two more bridges across the Miami 
river, in addition to a new city hall. Soon after, the Comer-Ebsary 
Foundation Company started to build the Fifth street bridge, to 
cost $190,000, and was the successful bidder at $540,000 for wid- 
ening the two viaducts on the county causeway to their present 
two-lane dimensions. 

The S. E. Second avenue river bridge was a final outgrowth 
of the formation at this time of the Fort Dallas Park Association, 
which inquired into the possibilities of cutting S. E. Second avenue 
through the grounds of the Royal Palm Hotel, and carrying 
it either over or under Miami river to connect with Brickell avenue 
on the south side. The street stopped then at the north line of the 
Royal Palm property, at the corner where the old home of John 
W. Watson recently was torn down to make a parking lot. 

The Tamiami Trail in this county was a mere trail in fact in 
those days, sticking 40 miles westward into the Everglades. J. W. 
Carey, chairman of the county commission, announced that 35 men 
were put to work surfacing the Trail 15 miles west of the present 
city limits, partly as a relief project for needy citizens. Relief was 
a small matter then, Miss Elizabeth A. Cooley of the American Red 
Cross even going so far as to say that Florida was the only state in 
the South for two years that had not asked for assistance. 

J. F. Jaudon and R. A. Coachman returned from a trip along 
the West Coast as far into Collier county as the Deep Lake railroad 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

to report Barron G. Collier's men were pushing the new Trail east 
toward Miami from the now abandoned corner of Carnestown, 
named for Collier's son. However, it was not until Gov. John W. 
Martin made a personal trip into that territory the following year 
that this pet project of The Miami Herald was jerked out of the 
ruts by the state and made into the present highway through the 
lower Everglades. 

The fact that it took a tractor to travel 20 miles out of Miami 
on the Trail did not stop the land speculators in those days. As 
1925 opened, Kincaid Harper was advertising the "last close-in 
acreage" along the Trail at $3,000 an acre. The Irons Land and 
Development Company announced that all acreage near this route 
for 30 miles west of Miami was worth not less than $200 an acre, 
even though the road that bordered it existed largely on paper. 
At 10 miles out, the price was $2,000 an acre, with many bidders. 
The Everglades Land and Development Company temptingly of- 
fered a whole townsite of 6,000 acres, "close in" as the boys liked 
to call it. 

Miami was having trouble also with her exit to the north. In a 
rare burst of frugality the voters had refused to approve a $300,000 
bond issue for rebuilding the Dixie highway northward along the 
line of the present N. E. Second avenue. Opposition developed from 
the Charles Deering estate and the Cooper interests, through whose 
land the Dixie was to run. After the bond election failure, the state 
road department decided to build the road anyway, with $454,000 
of state and federal funds. 

The county paid Charles Deering $39,000 for a right of way 
through his property for the new Dixie. The county later con- 
structed the West Dixie highway out Seventh avenue about the 
time the new Biscayne boulevard was reaching toward Hollywood 
on the east. 

The county commission granted a franchise in the fall of 1924 
to the Biscayne Bay Improvement Association to start the present 
Venetian causeway over the Venetian islands, which were com- 
pleted by Waldeck Deal in January, 1925. J. F. Chaille estimated 
then it would require 16 months to dredge in the causeway to 
replace the old Collins bridge, longest wooden bridge in the world 
when it was the only tie between Miami and Miami Beach. 

South of Miami, the city of Key West was pleading valiantly 
for the federal government to build a motor highway across the 
keys. Speaking for the Oversea Highway Association of Key West, 
Mayor Frank A. Ladd expressed the opinion that the time was ripe 
to approach congress with a proposition that Uncle Sam should 
build the highway as a military measure. In February, 1925, Key 
West sent a motorcade of trucks and cars up the East Coast adver- 
tising a bond issue of $2,650,000 to be devoted to carrying the road 
from the mainland out over some of the keys. Ten years later the 
Oversea highway was finding more ready support as a work relief 
project, a phase which ended so tragically with the hurricane of 
September, 1935. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

The East Coast canal from the St. Johns river to Biscayne bay 
was a source of sorrow to all yachtsmen who tried to use it in 1925. 
It was started as a shallow waterway years before by the Coast 
Line Canal and Navigation Company in exchange for grants of 
thousands of acres of bordering land from the state. The company 
subsequently failed to complete the canal and refused to give up 
the land. 

Late in 1924 Frank B. Shutts was sent by the Miami Chamber 
of Commerce to the meeting of the Deeper Waterways Association 
to seek help in improving the East Coast canal. As the result of 
interest generated at that time, the canal finally was taken in hand 
by the state legislature, the Florida Inland Navigation District was 
created, with Mr. Shutts as one of its first officers, and the old 
canal and additional rights of way were acquired. The federal gov- 
ernment completed the present waterway down the East Coast on 
appropriations sponsored by Congressman Joe Sears. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


THE OLD FOLKS sat and rocked as usual on the long porches 
of the Royal Palm Hotel during January of 1925, but else- 
where in Miami the winter tourist program was swallowed 
up in the rush of opening subdivisions, drowned out by the day- 
and-night staccato of riveting hammers on a rising forest of steel 

Miami was beginning a building program which was to reach 
$60,026,260 when 12 months had passed, while Miami Beach was 
adding $17,702,532 in new construction. All the preceding fall 
there had been preparation, laying out of subdivisions, announce- 
ments of great hotels, bait held out temptingly to Northern invest- 
ors. Lots were the real commodity, of course, but even the poorest 
subdivision had to have some kind of building on it as a sort of 

Here was the land of sunshine where the evidences of Repub- 
lican prosperity could be invested in perpetual comfort, said thou- 
sands of booklets and advertisements broadcast by E. G. Sewell 
and the Miami Chamber of Commerce. Some of the finest pub- 
licity Miami ever got was put out that year by Louise S. May of the 
chamber of commerce, while Steve Hannagan at Miami Beach was 
beginning his swift rise as a master publicist. Thriving and lavish 
offices were maintained by the big developers, Fisher, Young, 
Merrick, D. P. Davis of Tampa, Addison Mizner of Boca Raton, 
in New York, Chicago, Atlanta and other key cities. They brought 
people in by the thousands on their own bus lines, by chartered 
train and steamship. The names "Miami" and "Coral Gables" 
particularly became synonymous in the lexicons of the shivering 
North with bare-legged bathing girls, warm days in January, even 
warmer speculative opportunities. 

Fred Rand began pulling attention away from Flagler street 
with his spectacular announcement that he owned 25 corners in 
N. E. Second avenue between First and Fourteenth streets, already 
had 14 buildings ready to start. He announced a two-year program 
designed to convert Second avenue into the main business artery 
of the city. His activities ranged from the Huntington building to 
the ill-fated Roosevelt Hotel, and before 1925 was three-fourths 
gone it looked indeed as though the center of Miami business life 
soon would be where the present traffic circle on Thirteenth 
street is adding its bit to vehicular confusion. The Miami Daily 
News Tower and the big Burdine & Quarterman building are the 
principal reminders today of that opinion. Fred Rand was killed 
in an automobile accident last year as he was preparing to make 
a come-back in Miami realty. 

The New Year brought Sol Meyer from Indianapolis to 
take over the financing of the 15-story building in N. E. First street 
planned by Jerry Galatis and J. E. Highleyman. This $800,000 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

venture was only one of many the Meyer interests handled, but 
it was most intimately identified with him. It later housed the 
Meyer-Kiser bank, but was so badly twisted in the 1926 hurricane 
that it had to be torn down to its present six stories. 

The site of old Fort Dallas was sold by the Tuttle heirs to the 
Miami Holding Company for $500,000 and the Robert Clay Hotel 
was put there the following year. The aged rock fort which once 
commanded the mouth of the Miami river was given a permanent 
resting place in Lummus park, farther up the river, and taken 
under the protecting wing of the Daughters of the American Rev- 
olution. The Alhambra and the Cortez Hotels were finished at 
this time. Nathan Neufeld was completing the $250,000 Ritz Hotel 
on Flagler street. 

The two-story Flagler Arcade was opened for business by E. 
W. Bebinger and J. P. Simmons, operating as South Florida Prop- 
erties, Inc. George Langford finished the 11-story Dallas Park 
apartments and started on the 10-story addition to the McAllister 
Hotel. The Gesu Catholic Church, formerly the Church of the Holy 
Name, dedicated its new $400,000 place of worship, marking a 
long step from the modest mission in Wagner's grove above the 
present N. W. Eleventh street and Ninth avenue, where the first 
Miami Catholics gathered. 

January saw the start of such imposing buildings as the Ever- 
glades apartment hotel, the Cromer-Cassell department store build- 
ing and the Fritz Hotel, the latter still an orphan of the boom. The 
Fred F. French Company had looked on Miami and found it good. 
They bought the Houston Wyeth homesite at N. Bayshore drive, 
now Biscayne boulevard, and Third street, for $315,000 and an- 
nounced that the public would be allowed to participate in shares 
for the 11-story Everglades, to cost $1,750,000. Joachim Fritz had 
made money out of the Melrose dairy and other ventures in Alla- 
pattah and beyond, and some of this he began to spend on the 
200-room hotel which stands where his former home was. It was 
to cost $750,000, and he may yet come back and finish it. 

Property began moving briskly right after the holidays. Lon 
Worth Crow was president of the Miami Realty Board, while Mrs. 
Crow headed the Miami Woman's club. The beautiful estate, El 
Jardin, down near Bryan's place, was bought from the Bindly 
interests for subdividing. Davenport & Rich opened Seville, 14 
blocks south of Flagler. The 80-acre Freeman estate in Little River 
was bought by Orville W. Ewing of Derry, N. H., for $500,000. 
The Fernie McVeigh estate, 26 acres between El Portal and Little 
River, was sold to D. C. Clarke of Louisville for $5,000 an acre and 
became Sherwood Forest in two weeks. Hess & Slager moved their 
jewelry business to Flagler street from Jacksonville. 

Having sold out Altos Del Mar Nos. 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 on upper 
Miami Beach, Tatum Brothers threw No. 4 to a palpitant public. 
Among the mobs of newcomers they capitalized on long residence 
with their slogan, "If the Tatums say so, it's so." 

Val C. Cleary contributed the outstanding news bit of Jan- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

uary. He sold for $150,000 cash the southeast corner of Collins 
and Fifth street at Miami Beach, where his modest bungalow had 
stood since 1920. Later to become mayor of that city, he had 
acquired the lot in 1914 for $800 when he first came to Miami as 
a player with the Pickert Stock Company. E. R. Dumont of New 
York bought it for a hotel location, but only small shops finally 
were built. 

Hardie's Casino, one of two on south beach, was sold to Bert 
Schreiber of Chicago for $500,000. Joseph Elsener, who today is 
engaged in putting the Croker estate at Palm Beach on the market, 
paid $2,000,000 for 1,855 feet of ocean front north of the Allison 
island bridge, buying from the Fisher interests and planning to 
construct Deauville casino there. The Fleetwood Hotel and new 
radio station WMBF were opened with oratory from William Jen- 
nings Bryan, Banker Edward Coleman Romfh and Mayor Louis F. 
Snedigar. Arrivals on the steamship Cuba from New York were 
prepared for anything in this new land of magic by seeing Carl 
Fisher's pet elephants, Rosie and Nero, haul their baggage from 
the Meteor dock. 

John W. Martin headed the list of new officials who took hold 
at this time. He was inaugurated governor in a colorful ceremony 
in Tallahassee, which a few weeks before had celebrated the one 
hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the state capital 
there. Tallahassee looked with tolerant scorn, therefore, upon the 
fevered antics of the south Florida real estate buyers who traveled 
the long dirt road from Jacksonville to buy state land. With him 
as secretary was Dr. Fons A. Hathaway, former Duval county 
school superintendent and an able administrator, who had made 
the political mistake of telling parents to mind their own business. 
Sam Barco and Roy C. Wright were made lieutenant colonels on 
Martin's staff. 

Henry Chase became the new sheriff, succeeding Louis A. 
Allen, who retired to the comparative magnificence of his new 
Druid Court apartments on S. W. Sixth street to deal in real estate. 
Bob Simpson succeeded R. B. McLendon as county tax collector 
and James Flood replaced J. Bert Hawkins as clerk of the Crim- 
inal court. 

As part of its expansion program, the Seaboard Air Line rail- 
road completed its cross-state route from West Lake Wales to 
West Palm Beach in January, having spent $7,000,000 in seven 
months to get there. President S. Davies Warfield headed the tri- 
umphal parade from West to East Coast, cutting a day from the 
time required to go by rail from Miami to Tampa. The Merchants 
and Miners Line started service from Philadelphia to Miami with 
the SS. Berkshire, paralleling the Clyde Line, which already was 
well established here. 

The city of Miami had decided to spend $6,000,000 for public 
works in 1925, and accordingly asked the voters for the first ap- 
proval. By a vote of 58 to 7, the citizens of Miami authorized 
$1,450,000 for incinerator, public market, street widening, sewers, 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

clocks, parks and hospital. Credit as well as cash was as easy to 
get in those days as falling off a dock. 

"That's nothing — I parlayed two quarts of synthetic gin into 
$75,000 in eight months." 

So declared an unnamed hero of a Liberty Magazine story 
dealing with Florida which appeared early in February, 1925. 
There was a great deal more in this and other publications to 
the same general effect that men and women were getting rich in 
Florida on little or no actual capital. The "gold rush" was on. 

Although the new Polk directory of that year listed 102,582 
permanent residents of Greater Miami, there is no way to deter- 
mine how many more had come in and were arriving daily to stake 
out claims in this new bonanza. We didn't call it a boom then. 
Anyone willing to be qupted would express the opinion that Miami 
would have no fewer than 1,000,000 permanent residents within 
10 years or less. 

The congestion on the Florida East Coast railroad was so great 
that H. N. Rodenbaugh, vice president and general manager, ap- 
peared before the Miami Chamber of Commerce to promise that 
his railroad would lay 219 miles of double track between Miami 
and Jacksonville by 1926. Trains were late in leaving Miami, he 
explained, because cars needed to make them up were just as late 
in arriving from the North. Between 50 and 75 pullmans arrived 
every day, packed to the guards. 

To get an outlet to the bay and a possible beach, Coral Gables 
bought the Mills and Hafleigh estates on the bay front and assured 
the development of the complete control of the Coral Gables 
canal. It was planned to dredge this shallow drainage ditch out 
to a 15-foot depth and 100-foot width, provide a yacht basin and 
dockage back of the Miami Biltmore Hotel and then join the canal 
to the Tamiami canal, thus completing a loop waterway which 
included the Miami river. To make the picture more alluring, a 
$2,500,000 Monte Carlo and country club were to be built where 
the canal emptied into the bay. Announcing sales for one month 
as $2,882,000, George Merrick stepped up the Coral Gables 
monthly sales quota to $5,000,000. 

At the Miami Beach end of the causeway, Jerome Cherbino, 
former Texas cattle rancher, headed a group which bought the 
site of the abandoned aquarium from James A. Allison for $500,- 
000 and started to build the $1,000,000 Floridian Hotel. Fred Rand 
and Ben Shepard bought the 422-acre Virginia key, next in the 
chain south of Terminal island, from the trustees of the Internal 
Improvement Fund for $126,000. 

In Miami the First Baptist Church bought the Field apart- 
ments in N. E. Fifth street and decided to remain there and build 
a larger church. The Trinity M. E. Church already was embarked 
on a drive for a $250,000 building fund. 

The old New York department store in North Miami avenue 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

was doomed. Daniel Cromer and Irwin Cassell decided that the 
business which had begun there in 1913 demanded expansion and 
accordingly started a seven-story building on the site of the old 
store, to cost $1,000,000. They had to pay $125,000 for 25 feet 
they needed in N. E. First street. The building today houses the 
Mark Store, successor to Cromer-Cassell's. The Miami Chamber 
of Commerce began a hunt for a new building of its own. The 
Miami Anglers' club bought a home near the new bayfront fill in 
N. E. Fourth street. Drs. E. S. and T. E. Vail opened their new 
Vail Arcade. 

In one of the many notable deals involving Roy C. Wright and 
Hugh M. Anderson of Miami Shores fame, the Knight brothers sold 
them the Hippodrome building at Flagler street and N. E. Second 
avenue for $1,250,000. This site originally was owned by Dr. James 
M. Jackson, beloved physician of other days, who paid $2,000 for it. 

Wider streets in Miami were badly needed and developers 
began a ruthless campaign of destruction to get them. For several 
years thereafter N. E. Second avenue, Flagler street, S. W. First 
street and others were studded with houses and small stores whose 
doorways hung over the curbing of the street, their owners too 
stubborn or too poor to move them back from the new street line. 

Ernest Cotton, director of Miami utilities, was improving what 
is now Moore park, where the city water reservoirs were located, 
north of Thirty-sixth street. This helped make Seventh avenue a 
major thoroughfare, but it was not hard to widen, because build- 
ings were sparse out that way. R. C. Hall headed an association 
to widen Lawrence drive, lined with beautiful old pines whose 
wholesale uprooting provoked a storm of protest. But there was 
no other way to get a wider street except to take out the trees, and 
the present Twelfth avenue is the result. 

"Oklahoma Bob" Albright moved out to the Moulin Rouge in 
Hialeah, and his Round-Up became the Club Alabam, built out over 
the bay. John E. Holland incorporated the Republican party in 
Dade county, also led Allapattah citizens in a demand for a city 
bridge over the Miami river at Seventeenth avenue. The Drake 
Lumber Company was selling 95 cars of building materials daily 
and announced a $500,000 addition to the plant. 

J. R. Anthony, whose string of banks contributed a dark chap- 
ter to later Florida history, was elected president of the Bank of 
Buena Vista and soon after became one of the best master minds 
in real estate. The Moorings, comprising two famous old estates in 
Coconut Grove south of Arthur Curtiss James, was broken up into 
small estates. Famous for 30 years as an avocado orchard, the 
Hardee grove near Coconut Grove became a subdivision with an 
unpronounceable name. 

While the county commissioners frantically sought plans for 
a new courthouse, increasing demands for space were received 
from Clerk George F. Holly. He declared that 800 papers had 
been entered for filing in one day and he had no room for files, to 
say nothing of help. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

The Ku Klux Klan asked for the job of policing Miami, claiming 
to have "driven the crooks out of St. Petersburg," but was finally- 
refused this civic pleasure. The crime wave was about as usual. 
The worst flurry occurred in November, when all the punch boards 
in town were taken in after two slick strangers had cleaned up 
$2,000 on them. Following that, City Manager Wharton sent a 
formal demand to Police Chief Quigg to stop all gambling. 

At Tallahassee, Gov. John W. Martin had scarcely warmed 
the executive chair before he called the state road department 
chairman, Judge H. B. Philips, on the carpet and demanded a state- 
ment as to what, if anything, was being done to rebuild the Dixie 
highway and to open the Melbourne-Kissimmee cross-state road, 
then blocked by an ancient portage train over the Kissimmee river. 

Judge Philips did the best he could, finally opening the Mel- 
bourne road and scrapping the ferry, in which it was hinted he had 
more than an academic interest. The 18-foot brick road from Jack- 
sonville to St. Augustine had practically fallen apart and desperate 
efforts were made to patch it up. 

At Martin's insistence the state road department decided in 
March to take over the building of the remaining 32 miles of the 
Tamiami Trail in Dade county, accepting $125,000 from the county 
as a minor contribution in addition to the $300,000 already spent 
there. But the road department, which was geared for the slow, 
leisurely days of the Catts and Hardee administrations, couldn't 
cope with this strange new horde of motorists, shouting from the 
detours, writing angry letters to newspapers, sending chambers of 
commerce to new highs of blood pressure. 

Judge Philips knew his days were numbered and he fought 
desperately to prolong them. He was pitted, however, against a 
force he could neither measure nor understand — the urge of south 
Florida for more and better roads. Martin soon took steps to get 
a better understanding in Tallahassee of just what it was he prom- 
ised when he was elected. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


BIG news studded the Miami firmament in March, 1925, with 
congress approving the Miami deep water harbor bill, the 
bandit murder of Police Sergeant Laurie L. Wever, the burn- 
ing of the old Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, absorption of the E. 
B. Douglas store by Burdine's, and the start of the new Dade 
county courthouse. 

The Miami ship channel and turning basin was 18 feet deep 
at that time, the federal government having spent $1,000,000 and 
Miami $200,000 on dredging and the stone jetties. The first chan- 
nel across the bay had stretched from the foot of Fifth street to 
Cape Florida with a depth of 10 feet to accommodate the SS. City 
of Key West for the Florida East Coast railroad. For many years 
no competing line could come into Miami because the F. E. C. 
owned all the bayfront available for dockage. 

The rivers and harbors act of 1925 allocated $1,605,000 to 
deepening the Miami ship channel to 25 feet and to widen it to 
500 feet from deep water to the jetties, 300 feet through the jet- 
ties and 200 feet up to the turning basin at the north end of where 
the city's dredging for Bayfront park had created a yacht anchor- 
age. Brought about by the untiring efforts of E. G. Sewell and 
other civic leaders, the new harbor fund was hailed as a promise 
that Miami soon would be one of the largest ports of the South. 

The Esther Weems of the Baltimore and Carolina Line began 
the first regular passenger service between Miami and a Northern 
point, in August, 1923, running from Philadelphia to Miami. The 
Merchants and Miners Line followed with a Philadelphia service. 
The Clyde Line had acquired the Van Steamship Line from Jack 
Crosland several years before and operated boats from Miami to 
Jacksonville. It started a regular New York service in November, 
1924, and the Dimon Line soon was running to New York also 
with the Cuba. 

But companies with much bigger vessels were impatient to 
get in, not only with freight but with the ever increasing crowds 
eager to buy tickets to Miami. Commodore J. Perry Stoltz had been 
compelled to send his cruiser out to the Gulf Stream late in Decem- 
ber to take Leon Rosebrook's orchestra off the Mallory liner San 
Jacinta, which was unable to enter the Miami channel. "Your 
orchestra is out here; come and get it," the San Jacinta's captain 
wirelessed Commodore Stoltz, who wanted the musicians for the 
opening of his new Fleetwood Hotel. More than 100 other passen- 
gers on board wanted to get off at Miami, too, but had to wait for 
the first regular port. 

At this time a spirited argument was in progress between 
Miami and Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce over harbor de- 
velopment. Carl G. Fisher announced that he would spend $2,- 
500,000 to create docks and turning basin at the Peninsular Ter- 
minal island south of the ship channel, marked today by several 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

gasoline storage tanks. A 26-foot channel already was dredged 
around the edge of the island. There was no question that Miami 
Beach had a deep water harbor, if some connection could be es- 
tablished between docks and mainland. 

The idea of building a high level bridge over the ship chan- 
nel finally was regretfully discarded, but even today men still 
consider a causeway from Virginia key to the mainland at about 
Point View, and connecting Virginia key with Terminal island. 
The best they could do then was to haul freight and passengers 
over to the causeway docks on lighters. Sewell strenuously op- 
posed the filling of 400 acres of bay bottom west and north of 
Virginia key by its new owners, ostensibly because it would spoil 
the Miami view of the ocean, but actually to check this threat to 
the future of Miami harbor. 

In exclusive Palm Beach, a crippled woman's electric hair 
curler helped swell the tide toward Miami. A short circuit started 
the fire which consumed the giant wooden Breakers Hotel and 
the newer Palm Beach Hotel, all on a windy March day. Nearly 
$2,000,000 worth of property rolled skyward in vast billowing 
clouds of black smoke. Although Henry E. Bemis, vice president 
of the Florida East Coast Hotel Company, quickly announced a 
new Breakers would rise on the site of the old, a blight was cast 
on Palm Beach the remainder of that season and the next which 
sent thousands of the wealthy to Miami and Miami Beach. 

Big possums walk late, as the wise huntsman knows. The 
big 'possums of the 1925 boom already were out in March. Charles 
and James Deering sold 6,000 acres along Cocoplum Beach, down 
to Chapman Field, to the Coral Gables development. It was to 
become the Miami Riviera and rounded out 10,000 acres which 
George Merrick had bit off. Farther south, 1,120 acres along the 
white sand beach of Cape Sable were bought from the Waddell 
holdings by R. R. Bailey, the Tatums and others, for a new town- 
site. E. A. Waddell and his brother had owned Cape Sable for 40 
years, and it was then accessible chiefly by boat. 

L. T. Cooper, S. P. Robineau and Neil Conrad were doing well 
with the subdivision of El Portal, from a part of which land the 
later development of Miami Shores was to come. Joined in a com- 
pany known as Florida Enterprises, these three and their associ- 
ates at one time clicked off sales in El Portal at the rate of $1,- 
000,000 a day and gave the principal outline to the northern part 
of Miami. 

Mr. Robineau had wintered at the Royal Palm Hotel in 1915, 
when he was invalided home from the French army. He returned 
to France with the American army in 1917, and after the armistice 
came back to Miami to stay. 

He and Mr. Cooper and others were responsible for Bay View 
Estates, Naranja Nook, Del Rio, and in and around the town of 
Pompano, the subdivisions of Sunylan, Ocean Drive Estates and 
Hillsborough Beach. They dealt extensively in acreage all over 
Florida, in addition to their Miami activities. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

Vernon Price-Williams paid $250,000 for the Point View man- 
sion of William H. Luden, cough drop manufacturer. It was built 
by Locke T. Highleyman, developer of the exclusive Point View 
section, and sold to Luden in 1920 when Highleyman began the im- 
provement of Palm Island. The E. C. McGraw mansion on Point 
View was bought for $175,000 by J. K. Dorn, one of the leading 
real estate men of the times. His former home at Thirty-sixth 
street and the bay went to L. T. Cooper for $125,000. B. B. Ta- 
tum moved out to his Grove Park subdivision, and Guy Stoms of 
the J. A. McDonald Company bought the Tatum house in N. E. 
First street for $110,000. 

E. B. Douglas at this time was faced with the alternative of 
expanding his department store on what now contains the east 
half of the Venetian arcade in Flagler street — or selling. He sold, 
the property extending 100 feet in Flagler and 200 in S. E. First 
street and including the Paramount building on the First street 
corner which he had added to his holdings. The buyers were John 
C. Knight, later a Miami city commissioner; S. J. Thorp and R. A. 
McCord. The price was $2,000,000. 

Drygoods of the E. B. Douglas Company was sold to W. M. 
Burdine's Sons Company for $200,000 and consolidated with the 
latter establishment. Mr. Douglas retired after 27 years in Miami's 
business life to devote his time to the charities he loved, and to 
the Jackson Memorial hospital whose board he headed. The sale 
moved Burdine's into a commanding position in the mercantile life 
of Miami. 

Sergeant Laurie L. W T ever of the Miami Police Department 
was patrolling the downtown section late one night in March, 1925. 
Petty robberies had been frequent and orders had gone out to keep 
a tight check on suspicious characters. 

A speeding motor car passed Wever and he gave chase, 
catching up with it near the Savoy Hotel and motioning the driver 
to the curb. As the vehicles slowed down, however, a pistol was 
pushed out of the car window and two shots sent the policeman 
to the pavement, mortally wounded. The car went on. 

Wever was easily the most popular member of the force and 
the manhunt which began that night was the greatest in Miami's 
history. He died the next day, March 16. Two days later, just 
before dawn, Chief of Police H. Leslie Quigg pushed his way into 
a shack west of Fulford and arrested two youths before they 
could grab sticks of dynamite placed near their coats, or draw 
pistols from beneath their pillows. They gave the names of Wil- 
liam W. Fox and John Naugle, finally confessed to the shooting 
of Wever and were spirited away to Jacksonville for safekeeping. 

Information on which the arrest was made was furnished by 
Bernard Henry of Versailles, Ohio, into whose tent at Little River 
the two had stumbled after abandoning their Essex coach the morn- 
ing of the shooting. Fox soon admitted his real name was Walter 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

C. Valiton of Toledo, Ohio, and not even the legal magic of Moman 
Pruiett could save him from a life sentence at Raiford state prison. 
Naugle got five years as an accomplice. Although there never was 
any lynching threat during the trial, public indignation against 
them was at fever heat, especially after publication of a picture in 
Miami Life showing Valiton and a young girl companion, in com- 
plete undress, taken before the murder when the boys were con- 
ducting a series of petty robbery raids to get money to live and 
entertain women. 

The funeral of Laurie Wever was a memorable one. The 
$1,400 mortgage on the Wever home was paid off by the sales- 
men in Tatum Brothers real estate office. The Miami Herald 
opened a subscription fund for the education of the two children 
which reached $11,000 in 10 days, and it was all cash, not paper. 
Mrs. Wever later became the Miami police matron. From that 
day on Miami policemen rode in pairs while on night patrol and 
the unusual zeal which Miami police today exhibit in running 
vagrants out of town had its beginning in the Wever murder. 

While all this was filling the public eye, the Dade county com- 
missioners engaged A. Ten Eyck Brown, Atlanta architect, to sub- 
mit plans for the present lofty city-county building, to cost an esti- 
mated $2,000,000. The city of Miami tentatively agreed to pay 
$40,000 yearly rental for such space as the city departments might 
require, but after the city got installed in the new building, it was 
years before the county could get any satisfaction about the rent. 

The new courthouse was started around the old two-story 
building so part of the new might be available before the old was 
finally demolished. In the meantime, a 40-foot square room was 
added to the old building to give the beleaguered clerks a little 
more space for the real estate papers that poured in for filing. 

Everywhere in Miami and its environs, big changes were in the 
air that March. Except for the annual regatta featuring the races 
of the new Biscayne Babies, the winter season was almost ignored 
and Miamians began to reach the conclusion that Ev Sewell's dream 
had come true and Miami was finally a year-round city. They 
didn't like it so well when the vanguard of the binder boys began 
pushing the old residents off the sidewalks, but that was only a 
minor irritation among the birthpains of a city. 

Henry H. Filer, chairman of the school board, announced that 
$6,000,000 in bonds for new buildings would be issued, including 
$1,000,000 for the new senior high school which was to replace the 
outgrown building in N. W. Second street. The Miami Woman's 
club broke ground on their bayfront tract for a $256,000 club house 
and Flagler Memorial library. The library at that time was con- 
tained in Fort Dallas and because of the Woman's club interest in 
the century-old fort, the club initiated a movement to buy it from 
Dr. R. C. Hoge of Norfolk, Va., who was to build the Robert Clay 
Hotel there. The D. A. R. later became permanent custodians of 
the transplanted relic. 

Mrs. C. H. Watson, operator of the Strand in Miami and the 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

Watson House at Niagara Falls, began that March to plan the 15- 
story Watson Hotel, now the Miami Colonial. Located on the bay- 
front, building and lot cost $1,500,000. Construction was started 
on the $550,000 Exchange building by Palmer-Laramore, Inc. Con- 
tract was let for the 15-story First Trust building as an appendage 
to the First National Bank. 

The cornerstone of the $260,000 Trinity Episcopal Church was 
laid with the blessings of the beloved Rev. Robert T. Phillips and of 
Senior Warden Frank B. Stoneman, then as now the editor of The 
Herald. The ground was being cleared for the future Meyer-Kiser 
building and the Olympia Theater. They had a great ground- 
breaking for the Miami Biltmore Hotel. The first tree was planted 
in Bayfront park. 

Far out on the Miami canal, 50,000 acres of Everglades land 
was bought from the Tatums for $1,500,000 by a syndicate headed 
by C. Bascom Slemp, former secretary to President Coolidge, and 
including Harold W. Nichols of Cincinnati, James B. Westcott of 
Chicago, Frank B. Shutts and Capt. F. W. Symmes. This was the 
last of 200,000 acres in that area bought by the Tatums from the 

More than 200 men were as busy as beavers on the ridge south 
of the James Deering estate, making Silver Bluff Estates into a sub- 
division. The third and last part of Golden Beach, up near the 
Broward county line on Miami Beach, was offered successfully by 
H. G. and R. W. Ralston. Cary A. Hardee of Live Oak, who had 
quit the governor's office in January, put $37,500 into two lots in 
the La Gorce section of Miami Beach, although he rejected the ad- 
vice given him by his successor as they rode together to the inaug- 
uration that he capitalize on his friendship with state officers and 
jump into the Miami land game. 

G. L. Miller of Atlanta was in the midst of pouring money into 
Miami building. His companies had financed the Henrietta Tow- 
ers, the Granada apartments, the Cortez Hotel and the Julia Tut- 
tle apartments, and he then was beginning the Venetian Hotel at 
the Miami end of the causeway. During March the Trust Com- 
pany of Florida grew out of the G. L. Miller Bond and Mortgage 
Company to lend a better local flavor to his work. 

In West Palm Beach 150 state leaders met with Gov. John 
W. Martin in an all-Florida development conference late in March, 
and decided that what the state needed was a $200,000 advertis- 
ing fund to be spent by a board of citizens. Subsequent failure of 
the legislature to provide the money was laid at Martin's door and 
started the bitter enmity which led Herman A. Dann, president of 
the Florida Development Board, and others to help pillory Mar- 
tin's political ambitions on the cross of Everglades drainage. It 
would have been a great thing for any board of exploiters at that 
time to have directed the spending of $200,000 for advertising. 

The big developers were much in the public eye. George E. 
Merrick was quoted in four columns of The New York Times on 
the wonders of Florida and Coral Gables. G. Frank Croissant and 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

L. T. Cooper were rivals in acquiring racing stables to carry their 
colors at the Miami Jockey club track, the former buying Moe 
Shapoff 's stable and Kentucky stud farm. J. W. Young announced 
his $15,000,000 harbor at Hollywood, Glenn H. Curtiss was host to 
12 army fliers who finally made it to Curtiss Field at Hialeah in two 
days from Selfridge Field, Michigan. M. C. Tebbetts opened radio 
station WGBU at Fulford and began plans for a $3,000,000 hotel 
of 18 stories. 

Out at Kelly Field, two army student fliers crashed in midair 
and saved themselves by taking to their parachutes, the first time in 
the history of aviation that such lifesaving had been recorded, the 
papers said. One of the cadets was C. D. McAllister. The other 
was Charles A. Lindbergh, who years later blazed the Caribbean 
trail for Pan American Airways. 

$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


ALL publications were at some pains in April, 1925, to impress 
upon the people the conviction that Miami was not having a 
boom, only a natural growth. 

Example: "Miami is not having a boom like the West where 
professional speculators made paper towns out of nothing, dis- 
posed of lots and went their way to pastures green." In a section 
bursting out at the seams with "professional speculators," that must 
have caused some amusement if they had time after scanning The 
Herald want ads to read it. 

It may not have been a boom, but the binder boys in April had 
made their headquarters at the Ponce de Leon Hotel in Miami. At 
Miami Beach, their favorite meeting place was the Fleetwood Ho- 
tel. Current then was that famous query: "Are you married or 
living at the Fleetwood?" The public generally decided that there 
was no more "winter season," because the newcomers obviously 
were more numerous in April than in January. 

By public demand, the famous Miami banker commission was 
continued without opposition, although Mayor E. C. Romfh was 
forced by pressure of business to withdraw and was replaced as 
mayor by Parker Henderson, the elder, until he died a short time 
later and Romfh was recalled to the commission. Petitions were 
circulated for Harry Piatt of the Platt-Tingle Paint Company and 
William P. Mooty, secretary of the state federation of labor and 
owner of the Franklin Press, but these were withdrawn in the face 
of a general belief that having moneyed men in the seats of power 
gave confidence to new capi- 

Up in conservative Tallahas- 
see the legislature of 1925 was 
met by an impassioned resolution 
from Representative Charles 
H. Taylor of Plant City for an in- 
vestigation of "race track gam- 
bling and other immoral condi- 
tions in Miami." Norris McElya 
was Dade's only representative 
then, but between his efforts in 
the house and those of Senator 
James E. Calkins of Fernandina in 
the upper body, the investigation 
fell through. 

Gov. John W. Martin, in his 
message, urged reapportionment 
of the legislature to give south 
Florida more votes, Everglades 
drainage, increase of the gasoline 
tax to provide $12,000,000 yearly mKm 

E. G. Sewell 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

for new roads, increase of the speed limit from 30 to 45 miles 
an hour, creation of a fresh water fish and game commission to 
protect the diminishing wild life, and in a later special message 
asked for adoption of a constitutional amendment to permit the 
state to appropriate money for the support of common schools. This 
he carried before the people and it was approved in the next elec- 
tion. On the basis of that amendment today, the state is prom- 
ising to pay $9,000,000 yearly for elementary education where then 
it couldn't appropriate a dime for the little red school houses. 

We like to boast of no state debt in Florida. It wasn't the 
fault of Representative Charles W. Hunter of Ocala. He advo- 
cated a $70,000,000 state bond issue to construct 3,508 miles of 
paved highway, but Martin frowned on it. "Pay as you go," was 
the motto. Some public clamor arose from the Singletary bill to 
compel the reading of the Bible daily in public schools. 

Real estate men from all over Florida converged on the cap- 
ital when the senate considered a bill to give the state land cus- 
todians control of all riparian lands, that is, the land between high 
and low water line all round the state. T. J. Pancoast and Hamil- 
ton Michelsen led the local delegation, which finally succeeded in 
diverting what they all felt would be a mortal blow to the boom 
by stopping ocean and bayfront improvements. 

A great clamor arose in the south end of Dade county at that 
time for a new county of Redlands, to include Homestead and even 
part of the keys. L. L. Chandler of Goulds headed an organiza- 
tion that finally halted it despite the lobbying of S. A. Livingston 
of Homestead. Martin and Indian River counties were carved out 
of the East Coast in that session, along with Gulf and Gilchrist 
in the western part of Florida. There was some agitation for cre- 
ating Conners county out of the western half of Palm Beach county, 
but that effort to perpetuate the name of the builder of Conners 
highway got lost in the shuffle. 

The first legislative step in the improvement of the East Coast 
canal was the bill passed at this time pulling $10,000 out of the 
treasury to survey the canal, see what could be done with the Coast 
Line Canal and Navigation Company, the owners, and make recom- 
mendations to the 1927 legislature. On the basis of the new state 
census, showing Florida with 1,253,600 people, Dade county and 
Pinellas county, St. Petersburg, received two more state represent- 
atives, and Senator John W. Watson's district was reduced from 
six south Florida counties to Dade alone. This was pushed through 
by the administration group, in the face of bitter dissent from north 
and west Florida. 

Miami's neighbors began shoving and pushing for more room 
at this time. Miami Beach started to stretch out its limits to the 
Broward county line on the north, and to the lower tip of Virginia 
key to the south, but after protest from Miami Shores and the Ta- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

turns, decided not to extend its northern limits. The legislature 
incorporated Coral Gables as a city, with Doc Dammers as first 
mayor and Constable M. P. Lehman, later sheriff, as director of 
public service. In a signed statement, George E. Merrick declared 
it was his hope that Coral Gables would be absorbed by Miami as 
soon as the major improvements under his plan could be completed. 

Buena Vista had a small but violent boom of its own in April, 
with $2,000,000 in construction announced, principally on the belief 
that the Florida East Coast railroad would build a new passenger 
station in the Buena Vista yards, which were to be abandoned in 
favor of Hialeah. The F. E. C. already was putting the drawbridge 
in place over the Miami canal back of the present jai alai fronton. 
Its officers began to spend $3,000,000 on new freight terminals at 
Hialeah, planning to build 125 miles of storage tracks and 20 miles 
of freight sheds to handle the business of the line. They refused, 
however, to say anything about a new passenger station, another 
municipal sore point, or about rebuilding the venerable Royal Palm 

Miami let nearly a million dollars' worth of paving, sewer and 
sidewalk contracts while the voters granted new 30-year fran- 
chises to the Florida Power and Light Company and the Miami 
Water Company, the largest majority being 574 to 118. The school 
board received approval of $3,800,000 in bonds by votes of 301 to 
33. Very few had time or thought for voting when there were so 
many prospects to see. 

Fred Rand and Ben Shepard decided that the next thing to do 
was to widen First street from the Urmey Hotel to the western city 
limits, and proceeded to start it. Arcades were built along Bur- 
dine's and other stores, front porches were lopped off all down the 
way, some front yards were paved and others were not. Even- 
tually a new bridge went over the river and First street, at least as 
far as the senior high school, has all the makings of a boulevard. 

E. G. Sewell was re-elected president of the chamber of com- 
merce, in recognition of the work of the chamber in getting a deep 
water harbor and an estimated 300,000 visitors the preceding sea- 
son. New directors were George Stembler, W. W. Culbertson, J. 
Avery Guyton, O. A. Sandquist and James Donn. They listened to 
a lengthy Sewell report, which showed 515,000 pieces of Miami 
literature distributed the preceding year and an invitation sent to 
the Seaboard Air Line railroad to come in; held a great testimonial 
dinner for United States Senator Duncan U. Fletcher, who urged 
Miami to strive for 30 feet of water in the harbor. His advice was 

Having done his share as secretary of the chamber, Fred L. 
Weede resigned at this time and joined the real estate firm of Lee & 
Brooks. He was no exception. Nearly everyone in Miami and the 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

environs who was not actually licensed to sell real estate, was act- 
ing as a "bird dog" in sniffing out prospects and revealing them to 
brokers for part of the commission. 

Traffic conditions were so bad during April, 1925, that mo- 
torists and officials alike ran temperatures all day long. 

Originally adapted to horse and mule vehicles, Miami 
streets during the early motor age had little bothersome conges- 
tion. But suddenly these streets were filled with vehicles from 
every state, including the Bronx, all competing with the home boys 
to get somewhere in a terrific hurry. This condition was aggra- 
vated by a scarcity of bridges over the Miami river, and the pres- 
ence in the streets of piles of building material and trucks block- 
ing half the paving while disgorging their contents onto the 

First light in the civic darkness was cast by Stanley Ray, public 
safety commissioner of New Orleans, who suggested one-way streets 
combined with the newly-installed traffic lights as a cure for con- 
gestion. The citizens reacted unpleasantly. "What?" some of 
them would snort, "mean to say driving two blocks out of our way 
to get by a one-way street will make it easier to get around? 'T 
don't make sense." But early in April the city commission in- 
structed City Manager Wharton and W. S. Maxwell, secretary of 
the Miami Motor club, to work out a one-way street system for 
downtown Miami. Wharton forthwith appointed as the first traf- 
fic director a desk sergeant of the police department named H. H. 
Arnold, later nicknamed "Honk Honk" for his traffic exploits, and 
the evolution of a one-way sys- 
tem began. 

The first stop-and-go lights 
were put in operation, directed 
from a traffic tower on the Bank 
of Bay Biscayne corner. We shall 
soon see how even blood was shed 
before citizens surrendered their 
rights to roam the streets as they 
pleased. Many were of the opin- 
ion that the only way to relieve 
the impossible condition at the F. 
E. C. crossing on Flagler street 
was to build a high level viaduct 
over the tracks. Hearings were 
held on closing the Miami river 
bridges to all but large yachts, 
but the city never exercised the 
rights which Lieut. Col. Gilbert 
A. Youngberg told them they had 
in the matter of requiring masts 
and smokestacks to be hinged. 

H. H. Arnold 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

Despite the turmoil downtown, the First Baptist Church de- 
cided on a new skyscraper building on its Fifth street and N. E. 
First avenue lot. It was to rise 12 stories, costing $1,250,000 and 
seating 5,000 in the auditorium. The first million was subscribed 
when the plans were announced, B. B. Tatum heading the list with 
$200,000. Dr. J. L. White led his congregation to an evangelist's 
tabernacle while the new church was being started. Although the 
abrupt decline of the boom forced the Baptists to abandon the sky- 
scraper idea, and bondholders recently became importunate to 
the point of foreclosure, the First Baptist Church is solidly an- 
chored in a much better church than it had before the boom. 

As we have recounted, E. B. Douglas had sold his store and 
adjoining property for $2,000,000 and retired to lead the Commu- 
nity Chest in a successful $207,000 drive for that year. Less than 
a month after the sale, the former Douglas holdings were leased 
by the Knights to Hugh M. Anderson and Roy C. Wright for 99 
years on a $3,000,000 valuation. The new owners began plans to 
tear down the old department store and to put thereon the present 
Venetian Arcade, which was to be three stories for the moment 
but built for expansion to 18 stories later. The same sort of plan 
accounts for the 3-story height of the Shoreland Arcade, which 
Anderson and Wright also put up. 

Hurrying throngs in downtown Miami were entertained during 
the latter part of April by the placing of three 18-ton steel girders 
spanning the whole banking space of the new four-story addition 
to the Bank of Bay Biscayne, which was being built by the Fred 
T. Ley Company. Some of our most expert lookers watched these 
giant supports into place. They bear the upper floors on their 
mighty backs, making columns through the main floor unnecessary. 
This unobstructed view makes it possible today for Kenneth Keyes 
to keep a better check on the salesmen of his large real estate or- 
ganization, which has taken over the former banking room. 

Big deals were almost becoming commonplace. The site of 
the old Trinity Episcopal Church at N. E. Second avenue and Sec- 
ond street was sold by the Ralston brothers to Milton J. Kern of 
Allentown, Pa., and his associates for $550,000. Kern also paid 
$500,000 for the lots on Biscayne boulevard north of the Columbus 
Hotel which are graced today with a soft drink stand and a park- 
ing lot. The Evergreen Gardens of 25 acres in Allapattah were 
sold for $500,000. John Sewell disposed of five river-front lots 
north of the Scottish Rite Temple to Dr. John W. Shisler for $225,- 
000. They had cost originally $5,600. Farther up the river the 
Waldeck-Deal Dredging Company was building the largest dry- 
dock in the South for the yacht and dredging business. 

At a gala dinner in the Ponce de Leon Hotel, M. C. Tebbetts 
of Fulford-by-the-Sea was showered with encomiums and assur- 
ances of local support for declaring he would build a $400,000 mile- 
and-a-quarter board track for winter automobile racing. John M. 
Burdine leased the Burdine & Quarterman building diagonally 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

across from the First National Bank from John B. Reilly, first Miami 
mayor, with an option to buy at $400,000. The southeast corner of 
Tenth street and N. E. Second avenue, running 175 feet on the ave- 
nue, was bought by Florida Enterprises from J. R. Anthony for 
$500,000. The year-old Henrietta Towers in Dallas Park was 
leased on a valuation of $1,000,000 by J. E. Junkin, sr., E. P. Grimes 
and T. V. Moore. The United Cigar Stores bought three lots at 
N. E. First avenue and Sixth street for $400,000. 

R. J. Marshburn was planning to open 15 more Piggly Wiggly 
grocery stores to reinforce the 10 already scattered about Miami. A 
two-story addition to the courthouse was hastily thrown up to give 
the judges elbow room. Railey-Milam Hardware Company had 
to have a $150,000 addition to its building on Flagler street, and 
the Miami Furniture Company moved into its new building at 
Miami and N. W. Fifth street. 

The biggest society event of the spring was the wedding of 
Dorothy Dean, daughter of S. Bobo Dean of the old Metropolis, and 
Robert M. Davidson, soon to become Coral Gables' first city man- 
ager. Scarcely less stirring was the marriage of Dr. White's daugh- 
ter, Martha, to R. E. Kunkle. Ruth Bryan Owen was restored to 
American citizenship, her marriage to Maj. Reginald Owen hav- 
ing made her a British subject despite her Jacksonville, 111., birth. 

Bank deposits in Miami had more than doubled in a year, with 
$99,259,751 on deposit at the end of March call in 1925, and $41,- 
629,833 in 1924. Judge W. E. Walsh had obtained a charter for 
the proposed University of Miami and the new regents were weigh- 
ing the advantages of sites offered by four big real estate 

Circuit Judge H. F. Atkinson refused to dissolve an injunction 
against Eugene Couture and 50 other Miami Beach property own- 
ers attempting to close the Ocean drive north of the Firestone es- 
tate and move it back toward the bay. Couture had started a house 
on what the county commissioners contended had been a public 
road for 40 years and he refused to give way. Not far from the 
scene of this deadlock, J. C. Baile as chairman of the Baker's haul- 
over commission pushed a plunger which blew out the last shred 
of dirt between bay and ocean under the new bridge, and the ocean 
tides came in Baker's haulover to sweep upper Biscayne bay. This 
haulover got its name from an early Captain Baker who found it 
convenient to swing small boats, loaded with plunder from wrecked 
vessels, over the narrow strip of land into the concealing security 
of the bay. 

The calm of an April Sunday afternoon was shattered by a tor- 
nado which rose over the municipal golf course at Hialeah, bounced 
once on the White Belt Dairy and reduced a two-story apartment 
and several houses to kindling, bounced several times through the 
northwest section with equally disastrous results, and moved out 
to sea, leaving five dead or dying and 34 injured in its wake. 

Arthur Pryor, the band leader, said he was standing on his 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

front porch at Hialeah watching a hail storm when the whirling 
black funnel formed almost before his eyes on the golf course and 
moved past with a terrifying roar. Roads and streets were blocked 
for miles by those trying to get to the scenes of the accident, or 
away from them, and ambulances frequently had to take to the 
fields on errands of mercy. 

The lessons of September, 1926, would not have been so severe 
if builders of the preceding year had taken time to see what the 
power of wind did to houses they were so busily throwing together 
like stacks of cards. 

2 K 

. . . just before the boom these Florida costumes uere somewhat daring, but the laic 
required stockings and style dictated hats. 



. . and today the Miami News Bureau advances this fish-net 
eld by a modest row of corks as the proper beach garb. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


AS the mounting tempo of real estate sales and building went 
into May, 1925, many of the older Miami residents began to 
slip away for trips to Europe on the riches that had so magic- 
ahy come to them. By then nearly everyone had convinced them- 
selves that Miami was having its first real "summer season," as all 
hotels except the Royal Palm, the McAllister and the Urmey re- 
mained open. 

An all-time record for high prices on Southern land was set in 
Mav by the sale of the Charles Deering estate north of Buena Vista 
for $6,500,000, or $30,600 an acre. The paradise which Deering 
had built up there during many years was taken over by a corpo- 
ration headed by the ubiquitous Roy C. Wright and Hugh M. Ander- 
son of the Shoreland Company and the sale later made it possible 
for the new Biscayne boulevard to take its present route. The 
Deering tract consisted of 212 acres, extending from N. E. Second 
avenue, where part of the old rock wall still runs, over to the bay. 

But that was only part of the high finance of the Anderson- 
Wright combination. Acting as the Shoreland Company, they leased 
a large area east of the First National Bank from Thomas J. Peters 
on a valuation of $4,000,000, for the site of the future Shoreland 
arcade. The mixture of frame one-story stores and shacks which 
huddled in that block and nudged up between the bank and the 
old Dade County Security building on First avenue were torn down 
in short order and there, as on the Douglas site they had recently 
acquired, Anderson and Wright started to put up a three-story 
arcade that could be increased to 
18 stories as times demanded. 

Miami Shores then had its 
main office in a building next to 
the Wayside Inn, on the eastern 
edge of their new holdings and 
in the shadow of the Halcyon Ho- 
tel. It was there, some remember, 
that Bill Snell, as a salesman for 
Miami Shores, conceived and car- 
ried out the idea of leading the 
assembled prospects in commu- 
nity singing before turning them 
over to a spellbinder, giving spe- 
cial emphasis to that other theme 
song of the boom, "On Miami 
Shores." It was believed that 
singing somehow softened the 
heart and loosened the purse 

The Trinity Methodist 
Church got the building fever and 

Roy C. Wright 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

decided to follow the example of the First Baptist in putting up a 
combination commercial and church property at N. E. First 
avenue and Fourth street. Marcus A. Milam headed the Trinity 
Methodist committee to raise $250,000 in pledges to finance the 
church part, and the $750,000 for the 10-story commercial wing 
was to be financed with bonds. The Baptists were to have 375 
offices and a gymnasium. It seemed a very simple way to get self- 
liquidating houses of worship. 

T. W. Palmer was starting the first 300-room unit of the Co- 
lumbus Hotel, next to the McAllister, with plans complete for a 
$2,000,000 building. The Henrietta Towers, one of the most pop- 
ular hotels in Miami, changed hands nearly every month, being 
unloaded by the hometown boys in May to Samuel Risman of Buf- 
falo on a valuation of $1,250,000, a quarter of a million gain in a 

The South Atlantic Telephone and Telegraph Company an- 
nounced through Manager Vernon Baird it would build a greatly 
improved central plant for $1,200,000, in addition to spending 
$600,000 for outside betterments. Recent merging with the South- 
ern Bell system unlocked the doors of this new capital. 

T. O. Wilson began to increase the Congress building from 
five stories to its present 17 at a cost of $1,000,000. George B. 
Dunn and the Miami Transit Company swept the jitneys off the 
Miami streets with 30-passenger busses, ignoring the anguished 
wails of the idle jitney drivers. The county commission decided to 
sell the Central school grounds to the school board for $1,000,000 
to meet part of the cost of the new courthouse and to levy taxes for 
the remainder instead of selling bonds. 

Just before he left in May for his summer vacation, Carl G 
Fisher contributed another chapter to his feud with S. A. Lynch, 
the Atlanta capitalist, over what we know today as Sunset Islands. 
Lynch and his associates owned the tips of these four nubs that 
stuck out like fingers from the western side of Miami Beach north 
of the Venetian islands. Fisher owned the base of the nubs and the 
mainland. He feared that Lynch would hold him up if he tried to 
buy them, and he didn't want Lynch to have a rival development 
right under his nose. 

He appeared, therefore, to oppose successfully a petition by 
the Lynch interests for permission to bulkhead and fill a consider- 
able area around the four nubs. Later, Fisher made certain that 
Sunset Islands would not trouble him by cutting them off with 
a canal running along the shore. As he owned the land on both 
banks of the canal, Lynch couldn't even put up a bridge to reach 
the shore. The feud is over, Lynch having returned this spring and 
put Sunset Islands on the market, but Fisher kept them out of the 
last boom. 

$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

The Minneapolis Journal at this time described the Florida 
movement as a "feverish land boom," which local journalists felt 
was caused by the Minneapolis writers not being familiar with local 

Perhaps the Minneapolis observers had read in the May an- 
nals of the sale of Silver Crest, for example, a subdivision at Grape- 
land boulevard north of Coral Way, which was completely sold out 
in 10 minutes after the sale started. Five binders were offered on 
every corner lot days before C. Edward Clarke threw the subdivi- 
sion open. Or they might have heard of Addison Mizner's Boca 
Raton, where eager buyers had gobbled up $2,190,000 in lots the 
first day they were offered, and took an even greater amount two 
weeks later. 

Perhaps they even were informed of the Arthur-Manley- 
Birch subdivision of East Shenandoah, which got rid of $3,000,000 
in lots the first offering and was completely sold out in two days. 
Perhaps the Minneapolis scribes didn't think it normal for whole 
subdivisions to be gobbled up like a June bug thrown to a duck, 
but we knew, down in Miami, that it was only our way of growing. 

Armstead Brown quit practicing law with John P. Stokes in 
Miami at this time and was appointed to the Florida Supreme court, 
to succeed Judge Jefferson B. Browne of Key West, who wanted to 
return to the island city to live. A. C. Alleshouse resigned as prin- 
cipal of Miami High school after 25 years in teaching to look after 
his property, and W. R. Thomas stepped into the principal's office 
from that of assistant. 

Roddey B. Burdine was elected head of Miami Rotary. John 
W. Claussen merged his insurance interests with the Stembler insur- 
ance agency, Duncan MacDonald becoming treasurer. M. S. Tuck- 
er came to Miami from Jacksonville as Dade county's first auditor 
and purchasing agent, and was embroiled for months in a legal 
fight over his newly-created office. Ollie H. Gore, business man- 
ager of The Hollywood Magazine, went to New; York to represent 50 
Florida chambers of commerce that summer. Sherman Minton, 
now United States senator from Indiana, came to Miami to join the 
law firm of Shutts & Bowen. 

Ed Howe, the Sage of Potato Hill, was honored on his seventy- 
first birthday. C. E. Riddell of Galveston succeeded Fred L. Weede 
as secretary of the Miami Chamber of Commerce, and brought Mar- 
vin Brown from Beaumont to edit The Miamian and handle Miami 
publicity. Neither seemed to fit in with the local picture. John 
Seybold concluded 25 years in Miami business by selling his bakery 
to the Southern Baking Company, and retiring to watch his new 
Central arcade rise above downtown Miami. 

Dan Hardie, longtime sheriff, joined the caravan of Miamians 
on world trips, visiting the Holy Land and many other foreign coun- 
tries while new owners took over the pioneer casino at south beach 
from which he had retired. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

The first warning cloud in the bright sky of the Florida boom 
was the discovery in the middle of June, 1925, of a picked squad 
of 20 federal income tax specialists in the county courthouse and 
federal building checking the profits of the speculators. 

Some men began to take stock and to reef in their sails. They 
even contemplated the end of the year and the profits they might 
have to declare then. A man could make a million dollars profit 
on. a sale, but he would be lucky to get 20 per cent of it in cash. 
The remainder was paper, but Uncle Sam demanded at least 50 
per cent income tax in cash. Many a luckless paper millionaire 
found himself hard pressed to dig up the real money to pay taxes 
on his 1925 profits. If that was done, he found he had only re- 
duced his equities and might better have waited to make a fresh 
start with the new year, instead of selling so soon. 

But that was only a small cloud and the bulk of us paid no 
attention to such remote signals. Fred Rand began in June to build 
the $600,000 Huntington building on the site of the "Gables" at 
S. E. Second avenue and First street. Far out on the other end of 
his Second avenue business strip, at Fourteenth street, he started 
the $2,750,000 Roosevelt Hotel, whose unfinished walls and rude 
interior furnished a haven for hoboes and the homeless of 10 years, 
while two hurricanes did their unsuccessful best to ruin it. The 
structure was bought in January, 1936, for $38,000 by Lindsey Hop- 
kins, sr., Atlanta capitalist, who will repair and finish it. 

George E. Merrick made the best offer for the proposed Uni- 
versity of Miami, promising 160 acres in the southern part of Coral 
Gables and a $5,000,000 endowment conditioned upon another 
$5,000,000 being obtained. That was easy, in those days, for the 
men who incorporated it. The founders were W. E. Walsh and 
Frederick Zeigen, who had nursed the idea of an open-air uni- 
versity for a year; William Jennings Bryan, Clayton S. Cooper, 
James M. Cox, Bertha M. Foster, Henry Salem Hubbell, George 
Merrick, Ruth Bryan Owen, Thomas J. Pancoast, Mitchell D. Price, 
Leslie B. Robertson, E. G. Sewell, Frank B. Shutts and B. B. Tatum. 
The announcement was blazoned through 16 solid pages of Coral 
Gables advertising in one issue of The Miami Herald. 

You rarely hear of Atlantic Shores today, but in June, 1925, it 
began a campaign of advertising and promotion second only to the 
scale on which Coral Gables and Miami Shores were being pushed. 
Atlantic Shores grew out of the purchase of 960 acres of swamp 
land and beach just south of Hollywood, from the ocean to the 
present Dixie highway where it curves into Hollywood. It was one of 
the last undeveloped tracts in the boom-beach zone and had a mile 
of ocean frontage. The buyers were headed by Judge T. T. Ans- 
berry of Ohio and Washington. They paid $4,000,000 for the 
land, most of it to Olaf Zetterland, a former Flagler railroad en- 
gineer who had acquired it for $1 an acre many years before. 

With Joy C. Clark pushing the promotion, Atlantic Shores got 
rid of $17,000,000 in lots during the first three weeks of July, quite 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

dwarfing the Golden Beach development just south of it. At the 
height of the boom, it was estimated that $30,000,000 was repre- 
sented in the lots of Atlantic Shores, but all that remains today of 
those values is the land, a few houses near the Dixie highway, and 
the administration building back near the ocean. 

While all these activities on land were absorbing the steady 
inrush of capital, five proposed new islands were plotted in up- 
per Biscayne bay, running north from the new Venetian islands. 
Soon lots were being sold on paper, on locations then admittedly 
10 feet under water. The new islands were to constitute a $200,- 
000,000 development of Hugh M. Anderson, Roy C. Wright, Robert 
H. Gamble of Jacksonville, J. F. Chaille of the Venetian islands, 
and F. C. B. LeGro, now a commissioner of Everglades drainage 

All public groups and the county commissioners indorsed the 
new islands and the project was off in a swirl of glory. They were 
to be part of the ambitious upper bay development linked with 
Miami Shores, and possibly tied in with the new Seventy-ninth 
street causeway promised at that time by T. A. Winfield and final- 
ly opened July 19, 1928. How far the islands got before the boom 
collapsed may have been noted any time within the last 10 years 
by the line of pilings outlining them. LeGro was left holding the 

Just how valuable this bay bottom was considered is evidenced 
by the storm of protest which arose when the legislature passed a 
local bill late in the 1925 session to convey to the city of Miami 
control over a large part of the submerged bay bottom, even that 
within the limits of Miami Beach. Governor Martin listened to both 
sides, vetoed the bill. 

The legislature of 1925 finally closed after Governor Martin 
had swung the big stick over them in a one-day special session to 
get the biennial appropriations bill passed without making a $2,- 
000,000 cut demanded by west Florida conservatives. The gasoline 
tax was increased from 3 to 4 cents to provide more money for 
highways. A fire board was created to fight Everglades muck 
fires. Free textbooks were provided in public schools for the first 

"Honk Honk" Arnold got his one-way street and traffic light 
system ready for operation by June 21, with through streets desig- 
nated on Flagler from the bay to Twenty-second avenue, N. E. Sec- 
ond avenue from the Royal Palm grounds to Thirty-sixth street, 
and all of N. Bay Shore drive, which then was being paved 200 feet 
out on the new fill from the Royal Palm to Sixth street. 

Although the merchants grumbled, the people of Miami gen- 
erally approved the change. The greatest trouble arose from the 
habit of pedestrians walking across on the green light. One of the 
new police contingent from Georgia, Patrolman Johnson, became so 
incensed at a pedestrian who disobeyed his commands to stop cross- 
ing when the "Go" light was on that he yanked out his pistol and 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

fired, hitting a citizen named C. F. Mowery half a block away. 
Johnson was discharged for his mistaken zeal, Mowery recovered, 
and pedestrians began waiting for the lights to change before 
charging into the stream of traffic. 

The Wofford Hotel decided in June to remain open through 
the summer, after many requests from former guests. The Fleet- 
wood reopened with one guest, in response to the apparent need 
for accommodations, as did many other hotels. 

First hints that the Seaboard Air Line railroad would extend 
its lines from West Palm Beach to Miami came with a real estate 
advertisement early in June declaring the Seaboard station would 
be built at Flagler street and LeJeune road. Although the cham- 
ber of commerce and other civic bodies had been urging the Sea- 
board to come in for a year, W. L. Stanley of the railroad at that 
time labeled as "untrue" the statement that the Seaboard defi- 
nitely had decided to extend its line south from West Palm Beach. 
The actual announcement came a month later. 

Not all news then was buying and selling. Robert R. Taylor, 
of pioneer stock, became Dade county solicitor, a position he again 
holds this year. Thomas J. Overton resigned after 22 years with 
the Miami post office, to deal in real estate. Horace Stilwell was 
organizing the Republican party for Florida at Orlando, predict- 
ing the state would go Republican within a few years. E. D. Sulli- 
van named his Patricia Hotel in Dallas Park for the young daugh- 
ter of P. E. Hickey, his financial associate. M. B. Garris, local 
engineer, was plotting the streets in Dallas Park. 

Eugene Hawkins, young bridegroom of three hours, was shot 
and killed near the Wildcat in Coral Gables by the enraged father 
of his bride, Ethel. The killer, A. C. Caldwell, also shot the daugh- 
ter, and then disappeared into the palmetto scrub where his dead 
body was found a week later. The dirigible Los Angeles made its 
first appearance over Miami, going from Puerto Rico back to Lake- 
hurst. It was the largest thing Miamians had seen in the air. O. 
B. Sailors of Kokomo, Ind., one of the builders of the Clyde Court 
apartments, died in Arizona, and Mrs. John Sewell died in North 

The Scopes evolution trial was about to begin in Dayton, Tenn., 
and William Jennings Bryan was the chief spokesman for the prose- 
cution. On the eve of his departure the debate about evolution 
waxed and waned in many a pulpit and editorial column. It was 
a futile and fatal undertaking for the Great Commoner. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


A FRANTIC scramble for any kind of Florida acreage had 
spread over the state by June, 1925, and investors newly ar- 
rived from the North sat in Miami and bid fantastic prices 
for enormous tracts of land in north and west Florida that they 
had never seen and couldn't imagine what it even looked like. In 
those times, by popular consent, it was called "ahkredge," if that 
spelling conveys the idea. 

Typical is the case of Bert Schreiber of Miami, who paid $1,- 
750,000 for 300,000 acres of forest and swamp land in Leon, Wa- 
kulla and Jefferson counties, south of Tallahassee, and sold it that 
June within a week for $250,000 profit to Abe Cohen of Chicago. 
Incidentally, Schreiber retained the timber rights on the land, the 
only thing that gave it value, but few of the visiting acreage spec- 
ulators gave a thought to such small profit features as timber or 

Jacob Goodman of New York spent only a week in Miami be- 
fore he became the owner of 400,000 acres in far-off Liberty coun- 
ty, which, had he taken the trouble to inquire, he couldn't even 
reach by road. A Miami syndicate paid $1,200,000 for 100,000 
acres in Orange and Osceola counties, south of Orlando in what 
then was one of the wildest parts of the state. Ballard & Buche- 
lew offered 2,000,000 acres in scattered and frequently inacces- 
sible parts of the state. For a binder of $10,000 they would con- 
sider selling 24,000 acres in Santa Rosa county, this side of Pensa- 
cola. A binder of $25,000 was required to hold 200,000 acres in 
Washington and Calhoun counties. Kincaid Harper was subdi- 
viding 12,700 acres in Holmes county, up under the Georgia line, 
for small farms. 

Of course, the choice offerings were close to Miami, the nerve 
center of the boom. West of Doc Dammers' Central Miami and be- 
yond, where the Coral Gables Seaboard depot today falls grace- 
fully into decay, someone paid $1,500,000 for 405 acres. The Ives 
Dairy farm of 485 acres was bought by the Donnelly Realty Com- 
pany and renamed North Fulford. 

Former Sheriff Louis A. Allen was doing well in real estate 
and won some brief fame by paying $175,000 for 10 acres west of 
Twenty-seventh avenue on N. W. Thirty-sixth street, buying from 
John Givens, a thrifty negro who had paid $250 for it 28 years 
before and lived there comfortably ever since. Tottens key, south 
of the present Cocolobo Cay club, was taken from Isaac L. Jones 
for $250,000, he also having acquired it 28 years before for the 
sum of $212. Land which had been in the Brickell family since 
the original Spanish grant was conveyed by William and George 
Brickell to the Brickell Estate Company and the Donnelly Realty 
Company began selling off the 192 acres as Brickell Estates. 

The Matheson tract on Upper Matecumbe key, visited so dis- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

astrously by the 1935 storm, was sold for $250,000, at the rate of 
$1,500 an acre. J. M. Smoot, president of the Miami Jockey club, 
and his associates paid $2,000,000 for 63,000 acres in Lake, Sum- 
ter, Pasco and Hernando counties, evidently in the belief that they 
were near Tampa. 

The area around Okeechobee City and the upper end of the big 
lake was seething with subdividers, mapping out homesites where 
the buyer could have from one to five acres instead of a 50-foot 
city lot. Advertisements recalled the alleged statement from 
Henry M. Flagler, the Oracle of the East Coast, that "Okeechobee 
will be another Miami." His railroad at the time was pushing 
through Okeechobee down the east side of Lake Okeechobee, with 
the intention of running along one of the canal banks into Hialeah. 

Curtiss-Bright ranch was established at Palm Circle and the 
settlement of Brighton, named for James H. Bright, was in the 
making on the state road west of Okeechobee. M. M. Hogan was 
developing Okeechobee Manors. Another boom flower west of 
the city was Okeechobee Highlands, a euphemism indicating pos- 
sibly a foot rise above the general level. On beyond was Harding 
Township. Okeechobee Shores was started as an inland seashore 
on what they called Chauncey bay. 

Allentown, between Okeechobee and Venus, was termed 'The 
City of Contentment," where five acres could be had for $500. Fort 
Drum was being changed into a model city and such exotic pro- 
ductions as Kissimmee Gables traded on the vast vogue of Coral 
Gables. The Alford Realty Company had quite a play with Alford 
City, in the upper 'glades. Fort Pierce Farms declared sales of 
$1,000,000 in the first month. The near-by city of Indrio was in 
the making. Industrial City was laid out on the Palm Beach canal, 
across from Loxahatchee Farms, and buyers were promised a forest 
of smoking industrial stacks almost before you could get a deed. 

Even the war department got the fever and was about to throw 
Chapman Field on the market, after giving 95 acres to the de- 
partment of agriculture for an experimental farm. But E. G. Sewell 
and other Miamians stepped in and persuaded the war depart- 
ment that the field should be kept for an air base, the function it 
served during the World war. It has since been used for that pur- 
pose again, although in December, 1925, Nathan Friedman of New 
York enjoyed a brief ownership by offering to pay $2,800,000 for 
the 800 acres of Chapman Field, which would have given the war 
department a profit of 3,843 per cent on its original investment. 

When Key Largo City could be soberly described as a $20,- 
000,000 undertaking, it did not seem at all improbable that Miami 
soon would be a solid city from Coco Plum beach to West Palm 
Beach, as C. W. Montgomery, Herald real estate writer, asserted 
was the general belief. 

Accompanying this unreasoning urge for subdividing, which 
resulted in city lots being staked out in the middle of a hundred 
Florida swamps, was a popular demand for guidance in investment. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

Full-page advertisements depicted a ragged and obviously 
wretched individual fighting off a pack of ravening wolves with one 
hand while using the other to herd his defenseless children and 
cowering wife toward the beacon light of safety in the doorway of 
the office of an investment organization. 

The late Vance W. Helm invited stockholders to join him in a 
$3,000,000 Florida Investment Properties, Inc., to make the profits 
that abounded in Florida realty. He claimed to have been one of 
the two original owners of Davis Islands, then in the midst of a 
breath-taking boom at Tampa. Numerous other Miamians, par- 
ticularly invited those not so well posted on the happy hunting 
ground of profits to bring the money in and trust to the advice of 
the knowing. Those who had lived as much as a year in Miami 
at that time were looked upon as prophets by the throngs arriving 

Slogans like "Noe Knows," by E. D. Noe & Son were blazoned 
far and wide in keeping with this oracle idea. Another very im- 
portant phase of most sales talk at this stage in the game, also, was 
the point that the seller did actually "own and can deliver" title to 
the property under discussion. So many bird-dogs and under-agents 
were trying to muscle in on every sale that it was frequently dif- 
ficult to find the actual principals. 

In Miami the commissioners approved a yearly budget of $2,- 
900,000, while committees of taxpayers urged the city not even to 
consider retrenchment. The Miami Civitan club by formal resolu- 
tion termed the $50,000,000 Dade county tax valuation "ridiculous" 
and contended that such a low valuation gave prospective buyers 
a false idea of the worth of property. Throughout the state county 
assessors had added $100,000,000 to tax rolls, after being raked 
over the coals in the spring by Governor Martin for keeping assess- 
ments, in some counties, at least, as low as 10 per cent of the normal 
cash value. 

In the midst of the excitement, an earthquake virtually de- 
stroyed Santa Barbara, Calif., and Florida was too busy to give it 
more than passing notice. 

It is not unlikely that the Seaboard Air Line railroad was liter- 
ally dragged into Miami during the height of the boom by reason 
of the intense irritation of the citizens over two minor features 
of the Florida East Coast railroad — the constant switching across 
Flagler street and the refusal of the company to construct a new 

It was a situation in which the F. E. C, having created Miami, 
found it had spawned an unruly problem child which suddenly out- 
grew all its clothes, "got too big for its britches," as we used to say 
of neighborhood brats. The millions that the Florida East Coast 
poured into its 219 miles of double track, into its oil-burning engines 
and Hialeah shuttle and great Miller shops at St. Augustine and 
the roundhouse at New Smyrna, came too late. The citizens of 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

Miami were humiliated by the plain, yellow, wooden F. E. C. depot, 
and they were irked beyond reason by waiting in the hot sun while 
endless strings of freight cars were shunted back and forth across 
Flagler street. 

In June, 1925, the Miami Chamber of Commerce repeated its 
invitation of a year before for the Seaboard Air Line railroad to 
extend its new line from West Palm Beach to Miami. It also called 
upon the city of Miami to assist in getting right of way. 

By July 13, S. Davies Warfield, the Chesterfieldian president 
of the Seaboard, was assured that the right of way was available, 
and two days later he finally announced that his line would come 
into Miami on land donated by the Curtiss-Bright interests, by 
George E. Merrick and by C. H. Perry, the latter for a depot site 
on West Flagler, a block west of Douglas road. On the West Coast 
about that time John S. Jones, the developer of Naples, was paying 
out his own money to run a Seaboard extension from Fort Myers 
into Naples, which was billed then as a second Miami Beach. 

Of course, the Warfield statement precipitated a mad scram- 
ble for choice lots and acreage near the depot site, around the pro- 
posed freight depot at N. W. Seventh avenue and Eleventh street, 
and all along the line to West Palm Beach. Perry very prudently 
took his 120 acres off the market, predicting it would go to at least 
$2,000 a front foot as soon as the rails began to appear. He waited, 
however, a trifle too long, as the depot never was placed there. It 
remains today as the Flagler Country club, Perry's principal 

President Warfield, with his usual energy, at once made ar- 
rangements to market $25,000,000 in bonds with Dillon, Read & 
Co. of New York to pay for the extension. When he appeared in 
Miami he was besieged by delegations from Homestead and the 
Redlands, demanding that he extend into that section. By the end 
of July title to all the land needed for an extension clear to Florida 
City was laid in Warfield's lap, and a giant torchlight parade from 
Miami to Homestead was arranged to signalize his decision to enter 
the Redlands. 

A different kind of torchlight flared into a June night with a 
fire which destroyed the S. H. Kress Five-and-Ten store and gave 
the whole city the nervous shakes, recalling that other fire of 1898 
when most of Miami was burned. But firemen kept the blaze in 
control, and soon after Kress decided to put up a five-story store 
and storage building costing $275,000 on the ashes of the old one. 
Happily, he still had the only basement in town, even though it was 
full of water. 

The Clyde Court apartments changed hands again at this time, 
going from Val Duttenhofer of Cincinnati to I. Aronovitz and Louis 
Afremow for $700,000. The addition to the post office, where the 
Miami Chamber of Commerce today lives, was nearing comple- 
tion, but even before it was opened people knew it was too small. 
William Sydow became the first city manager of Coconut Grove. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

Andrew Heermance took time out from his hazardous duties as 
field manager of Florida Aviation camp at Hialeah to get married. 

John B. Reid was one of the sensations of Miami Beach at this 
period of the boom, ranking third to Roney and Fisher in volume 
of sales. Reid was more of a broker and less of a builder than the 
other two. Before the boom reached its crest Reid had bought 
$12,000,000 worth of Miami property and set some kind of a rec- 
ord with $2,000,000 in sales during one week. 

Burdine's had found their new building was suffering for want 
of parking space for patrons and had put up a two-story garage 
some time before. Boom business was so great, however, that they 
began in June to increase the addition to six stories at a cost of 
$200,000, merging it into the department store. 

Any well-known man came to Miami at his peril, if he shunned 
public attention. T. V. O'Connor, chairman of the United States 
Shipping Board, was inveigled into buying some lots in Winona 
Park at Flagler street and Red road and overnight found himself 
heralded in full-page ads as a seer and a prophet who had looked 
into the crucible of the future and discovered that Miami very soon 
would revolve right around Winona Park. 

Brooklyn capitalists bought the Julia Tuttle apartments from 
Mr. and Mrs. Harry E. Tuttle for $700,000. The Marlborough 
Hotel at Miami Beach was sold by P. J. Davis to F. E. De Murias 
of Long Island for $500,000. The Roney Plaza Hotel building per- 
mit for $1,000,000 set a day's record for Miami Beach, while 
Miami's daily record was $1,982,950. 

Mitchell Wolfson had turned from the East Coast Jobbing 
House of his father to an intensive acquiring of North Miami avenue 
property, in company with Sidney Meyer. After getting control of 
a whole block along Miami avenue, they started to build the Cap- 
itol Theater for $325,000, as the destruction of the old New York 
Department store, not far away, seemed to forecast a building boom 
that would make North Miami avenue the business successor to 
Flagler street. 

But with all the grasping for land and money, the citizens had 
time to crowd the beaches daily and to create our first real summer 
season. Although nothing shocking occurred, Miami Beach de- 
cided the time had come to inspect bathing suits. Only a few years 
before it had required all women bathers to wear stockings, and 
the report that some men had been seen letting down their bathing 
suit tops brought prompt action, believe me. 

The Wofford Hotel announced that the fashionable bathing 
hour had changed from 11 o'clock in the morning, standards set by 
the Palm Beach aristocrats, and the hours now were before break- 
fast and from 5 to 6 o'clock in the evening. Although the residents 
in these parts didn't quite know what to do about the "summer 
season" now that it was upon them, it was fairly obvious that the 
newcomers didn't intend to deny the fact that it was much too hot 
at midday to loll for long upon the sands. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


HE TWO MEN who laid the cornerstone of the 1925 Florida 

boom were the late John S. Collins and Carl G. Fisher. The 

1 one first made the ocean beach accessible to the public; the 
other made the adjoining land habitable in wholesale quantity. 
We may w r ell concede that ocean bathing in January was the spark 
that inflamed the Northern imagination. 

John S. Collins is gone, leaving his son, Irving A. Collins, and 
his son-in-law, T. J. Pancoast, to carry on the work that he began 
when already a full life was behind him. 

Carl G. Fisher still is president of the three companies he 
founded here, the Alton Beach Realty Company, the Miami Beach 
Bayshore Company and the Peninsula Terminal Company. Worth 
at the height of the Florida boom an estimated $6,000,000 in quick 
assets and between $60,000,000 and $70,000,000 in equities, Fisher 
saw most of it tied up in the ill-fated Montauk Point development 
on Long Island when the stock market crash of 1929 froze the 
nation's assets. Whether he can emerge to resume the position of 
leadership he once occupied in Miami Beach in this new era of 
expansion is a question widely asked. 

Collins w r as at heart a horticulturist, a grower. We have seen 
how he came to Miami from New Jersey and with six associates 
tried to grow coconuts on a large commercial scale ; of how the 
enterprise succumbed before the ravages of rabbits and discour- 
agement; of how Collins finally bought out the holdings of E. T. 
Field and became the owner of 1,600 acres of Miami beach, his 

domain reaching from Fourteenth 
street to Archway Villas north 
of the Deauville. 

In this empire Collins turned 
to the growing of vegetables, 
mangoes and avocados along In- 
dian creek, with his home and 
farm buildings at what is now 
Forty-first street and Sheridan. 
The long rows of trees marking 
Pine Tree drive were the first 
planted on Miami Beach, and 
lined the lane leading up to the 
farm buildings. Pine trees later 
were planted in squares else- 
where to serve as windbreaks for 
the young orchards. 

To make it easier to haul his 
avocados to market at Miami, 
and to bring in fertilizer, Collins 
dug the canal along Dade boule- 

Carl G. Fisher 


$ $ § MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

vard which bears his name. He also built the first north and south 
street in the upper part of the beach, to join with Atlantic 
boulevard, built from south beach by the Lummus brothers, the 
whole now being named Collins avenue. When it was laid out John 
Collins started the two-and-a-half-mile wooden bridge to connect 
his swampy paradise with the mainland of Miami. 

Many stories are recounted of the courage and perseverance 
of Collins. He and T. J. Pancoast were able to get the bridge part 
way across in 1912, but their funds ran low and constuction stopped 
temporarily. In their extremity they called on Carl Fisher, who was 
resting in a home near Point View in Miami with a comfortable 
fortune from the Prest-O-Lite Company salted away. The audacity 
of a man then 70 embarking on the opening of a new land intrigued 
Fisher's interest. He finally agreed to make a loan and the bridge 
was carried to completion June 2, 1913. 

As a bonus for paying $50,000 for the purchase of a majority 
of the bonds issued to build the bridge, Collins gave Fisher 200 
acres from Nineteenth street at Collins canal south. It wasn't much 
of a gift, except the beach. But standing on the ocean's edge 
watching the waves roll in, Fisher caught the same vision that John 
Collins had. He thereupon bought 200 acres more in the Lumm 
tract and 60 acres along the bay, giving him a belt from Nineteenth 
street to Fourteenth, just south of the Flamingo Hotel, and began 
planning how to make it worth something. 

The only way to use his new gift was to cut down the man- 
groves and to pump sand in from the bay to make land out of the 
swamp. Fisher induced J. E. and J. N. Lummus to join him in this 
project to improve their holdings as well, and Fisher put up the 

With John H. Levi in charge of the engineering, the filling 
and the bulkheading began, out of which Miami Beach as a city 
soon was created. The Lummus brothers and their friends called 
their portion South Beach. Fisher called his Alton Beach and the 
Collins group dubbed theirs Miami Beach. T. J. Pancoast recalls 
today that when the time came to adopt a name for the new town, 
that of Miami Beach was finally accepted, to hitch onto the Miami 
star already in its ascendancy. 

The first Fisher company was the Alton Beach Realty Com- 
pany, while Collins and Pancoast handled their affairs through the 
Miami Beach Improvement Company. After the wooden bridge 
was opened and the new land had taken form, Fisher and Collins 
combined in the Miami Beach Bayshore Company, to develop that 
part lying north of Dade boulevard and west of Indian Creek. They 
bought out the fringes from the Model Land Company of the Flag- 
ler group. Collins put in his land, Fisher put in a like value in 
money, thereby completing their control of Miami Beach as far 
north as Sixty-ninth street. 

Lincoln road was cut through the mangroves from ocean to 
bay in 1915 and a little box-like structure called the Lincoln Hotel 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

was built the following year, next to where the Community Church 
now stands. It was moved later and expanded into the present 
large hotel, for Fisher believed that people had to have a nice place 
to stay as the first requisite to liking Miami Beach. And as a fur- 
ther deft touch, he never allowed his real estate salesmen to set 
foot inside a Fisher hotel to get a prospect. 

The Miami Beach municipal golf course was the first on 
Miami Beach. Later, Fisher built the small nine-hole Flamingo 
course and the Flamingo polo fields for his guests, through the 
center of his first tract. In April, 1925, Fisher sold the two city 
blocks comprising the Flamingo golf course to the Shenandoah 
Development Company of Miami for a reported $800,000, but it 
was stipulated that it was not to be subdivided until 1931. Both 
the former polo fields and golf courses today are rapidly filling up 
with homes and apartment houses. 

The Flamingo Hotel was built by Fisher and opened in the 
winter of 1920-21. Charles S. Krom was brought over from Belle- 
air to be manager, arriving a full year before the completion of 
the building to advise on its construction. Fisher had investigated 
him, found him suitable, and he has been manager ever since. 

Fisher put up three other hotels — the magnificent Nautilus in 
1924, the King Cole and the Boulevard a year later. His land 
development was reaching out through the bayshore section, he 
was constructing the La Gorce and Bayshore golf courses, building 
new polo fields, running street car lines even out as far as the 
Nautilus Hotel. 

It was Fisher's ambition to have a deep-water harbor for 
Miami Beach, instead of taking the backwash from the ambitious 
Miami development. Long years before, Miami Beach had extended 
its swampy way over what is now the government cut to Peninsula 
island, but the two were divorced when the federal government 
found it could reach deep water through a minimum of hard rock 
by the present route, and retained ownership of that territory. 
Fisher acquired much of Peninsula island, but his problem, still 
unsolved today, was to establish rail and motor contact between 
Miami Beach and the wharves built on the island. 

One of the amusing features of that harbor expansion was the 
sinking of the concrete ship Sapona on the north edge of the island 
to make a casino. The Sapona was a noble experiment of the United 
States government during the war and was bought cheap. After 
it had been beached in its new home, however, Fisher dug it out 
again, towed it to sea and sank it. 

After leading him almost to the verge of financial ruin, his 
new venture began to yield returns in 1920, and sales from then 
on marked a fast-rising curve. But Fisher was dubious about the 
effects of the 1925 boom, and as the fever mounted his terms tight- 
ened. His property always was sold on condition that the pur- 
chaser be acceptable either to him or to his sales manager, C. W. 
Chase, jr. They required a 20 per cent payment upon closing of a 
deal, and in the very midst of the summer of 1925 Fisher made 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ ? 

terms even more severe, finally taking some property off the market 
entirely, and in other cases requiring the buyer to build as an evi- 
dence of good faith. It was his idea that prices then were too high 
for him to sell conscientiously, and he knew if he relinquished con- 
trol others might take the property on a wild buggy ride. 

Believing that he had his property safeguarded from the 
boom, Carl Fisher left Miami Beach in May, 1925, for the auto- 
mobile races at Indianapolis, and from there went to his summer 
home at Port Washington, L. I. While the fever raged worst down 
here, he was planning the new summer resort at Montauk Point, on 
the other end of Long Island, in which he and the Pennsylvania 
railroad were to join forces. He paid $2,500,000 for the 9,000 
acres making up that tip of Long Island. 

"Miami Beach in the winter, Montauk Point in the summer," 
was the slogan. His insistence upon building hotels and recrea- 
tional facilities and completing landscaping before selling a single 
lot almost cost him a single fortune. Because of the stock market 
decline, the real estate market refused to digest Montauk Point 
when it finally was ready, and the rapid shrinkage of Miami Beach 
equities following the collapse of the Florida boom stretched his 
credit to the limit. 

Come July 13, his birthday, Thomas J. Pancoast will round out 
15 years as president of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. 

He was elected its first president in Smith's Casino on South 
Beach in the summer of 1921 and has served so well that there 
has never been any serious suggestion of replacing him. 

According to C. W. Chase, 
jr., or Pete to his friends, the 
chamber was the outgrowth of an 
idea he nursed while waiting for 
something else to do in the Fisher 
organization, which he had for- 
saken his importing business in 
Key West to join. He discussed 
the need for a chamber of com- 
merce with the merchants of 
South Beach, but received little 
encouragement until he met up 
with Lambert Rook, son-in-law of 
J. N. Lummus, sr., and at that 
time the foremost realty expert 
on the Beach. 

At a luncheon held in 
Hardie's Casino, Councilman 
"Bill" Scott, showman and sign 
painter, finally made a speech 
that struck the popular fancy and 
the chamber of commerce was be- 

I. J. Pancoast 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

gun. To avoid friction, the next meeting at which the actual organi- 
zation took place was held in the rival Smith's Casino, where Pan- 
coast became president and "Pete" Chase the first secretary. He re- 
mained as secretary until the fall of 1921 when he was made sales 
manager for the Fisher companes, and C. W.Chase, sr., was brought 
from Key West to begin a job which ended only recently with his 

First objective of the fledgling chamber was lighting of the 
county causeway, which had been opened February 17, 1920, and 
already had run up a formidable record of night accidents. The 
county finally agreed to string lights along it, and the two cities 
illuminated their respective ends. 

There was no building, but C. W. Chase, sr., set up a large um- 
brella at the corner of Alton road and Fifth street and sat under it, 
dispensing information and literature to all who came over the 
causeway. Prosperity brought a building closer to the end of the 
causeway, and throughout the years the chamber of commerce was 
a large factor in making Miami Beach an entity instead of an ap- 
pendage to Miami. One of its flashiest achievements was when 
Steve Hannagan and Joe Copps made newspapers accept the Miami 
Beach date line on news stories, and at the same time convinced 
the world that most of the bathing beauties were at Miami Beach 
instead of Miami. 

The first real estate company at Miami Beach seems to have 
been the Ocean Beach Realty Company. It was formed in 1912 
by J. N. Lummus, sr., who later became the town's first mayor; by 
J. E. Lummus, his brother, and by such men as A. J. Bendle, Judge 
John C. Gramling, J. A. McDonald, Dr. W. S. Gramling, Dr. James 
M. Jackson, J. C. Baile, Avery C. Smith and possibly a few others. 
The company bought 100 acres on South Beach from Charles H. 
Lumm of Red Bank, N. J., for $30,000, and took an option on 400 
acres more for $40,000. This land is said to have extended from 
the Biscayne Kennel club to 200 feet north of Carl Fisher's former 
home, The Shadows. We already have recalled that Fisher bought 
part of this property when he came into the picture. 

Development efforts of this group centered about South Beach, 
where Avery C. Smith w r as enlarging his bathing casino. He came 
there in 1908, took over the Tatum pavilion and gradually en- 
larged it into the first beach casino. He also ran a boatline from 
Miami until the Collins bridge was opened. The Ocean Beach 
Realty Company had hard work selling lots to those who ran the 
mosquito gauntlet from the pier through the jungle to the wind- 
swept delights of the beach; the company later was absorbed by 
the Miami Ocean View Company when more capital was needed. 

This brings us to the fourth of the real builders of Miami 
Beach, John H. Levi, president of the Miami Ocean View Company 
and engineer in charge of the original filling of Fisher's land. 
Levi, like Collins, Fisher and Pancoast, has left many tangible 
evidences of his ability on Miami Beach, but in addition, he has 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

put the indelible stamp of his fine personality on the government 
of Miami Beach, where for nearly 18 years he has been a member 
of the council, 11 years as president of that body. 

Levi was superintendent of the Seabury Shipbuilding Com- 
pany of New York when he first saw Miami and wired Carl Fisher 
to join him. When Fisher cast his lot here, Levi stayed also and 
directed the filling and clearing operations which gave Fisher his 
first land to sell. Later, Levi and his associates built Star Island 
on 55 acres of bay bottom and transformed it into a tiny kingdom 
of exclusive estates. Levi also created the present Firestone estate 
for James H. Snowden on upper Miami Beach. For seven years 
until 1930, John Levi was president of the Miami Beach First 
National Bank. 

The Miami Ocean View Company, for which Levi first was 
general manager and then president, was formed with Snowden, 
Fisher, J. N. Lummus, sr., and Henry McSweeney. It controlled 
that part of Miami Beach from Fifth to Fourteenth street and 
from the bay to Washington avenue. James A. Allison, Fisher's 
Prest-O-Lite partner, joined them later, built the aquarium on 
the present site of the Floridian Hotel. 

But these material things tell little of the John Levi who today 
has only to put his name on a ticket to get any honor in the gift 
of Miami Beach. He was president of the council through the 
trying years of the boom and thereafter, and the unequalled finan- 
cial standing of Miami Beach today is due in no small degree to 
his hand at the helm when so many other Florida communities were 
caught in a boom craze that left them paralyzed with debt. It 
may be said of John Levi that he has never yet lost touch with 
the average citizens who make up that community. He is the 
civic bridge between the Committee of 100 and South Beach. 

From earliest days, J. N. Lummus, sr., father of the present 
county tax assessor, was a moving force in the growing community. 
Probably his greatest contribution was the impetus he gave to the 
construction of the county causeway, which augmented the Collins 
bridge in 1920. Although the Collins bridge first opened the 
Beach, the free county causeway made Miami Beach accessible 
to the boom. For some time, one side was reserved for passenger 
vehicles and the other for trucks, until the viaducts were double- 
tracked in 1924. As many as 61,000 people a day were checked 
passing back and forth across it in 1925. 

Others who came into prominence during the boom were the 
present mayor, Louis F. Snedigar, who also filled that post in 1925 ; 
the late Frank H. Henning, councilman and assistant to T. J. Pan- 
coast in the Miami Beach Improvement Company; the late Walter 
Kohlhepp, vice president and general manager of the Alton Beach 
and Bayshore companies. Kohlhepp was city finance director of 
Miami in 1922 when he came over to join the Fisher group. 

In this recounting of early days, some mention should be made 
of Edward E. (Doc) Dammers, first mayor of Coral Gables, who 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

sold Miami Beach lots off the tailboard of a wagon in 1913. When 
the Collins bridge was opened, 100 lots were set aside to be sold 
to Miami residents, each buyer getting five years' free toll over 
the bridge. All through the years that Doc Dammers was help- 
ing George E. Merrick pull the buyers west toward Coral Gables 
and beyond, Dammers was constantly trading on the fact that he 
had once predicted a golden future for Miami Beach when he was 
standing in the middle of a mangrove swamp pitting his auc- 
tioneer's lungs against the angry whine of mosquitoes and the 
incredulity of the natives — and now look at it! 

. . . thirty years ago they were cutting aristocratic Lincoln Road at Miami Beach out 
of this mangrove jungle. — M attack Photo. 



$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


MEASURED in terms of hope, the crash of the dream city of 
Addison Mizner's Boca Raton was perhaps the greatest 
tragedy of the 1925 Florida boom. 
Addison Mizner, architect, artist and creator, was one of the 
few to inject true poetry of color and line into Florida building. 
He started to do for a city on the ocean's edge at Boca Raton what 
he had accomplished as an architect in Palm Beach on the beautiful 
Everglades club, on the palatial villa of Mr. and Mrs. E. T. Stotes- 
bury, on the equally gorgeous Cosden villa, the mansions of Van- 
derbilt, Wanamaker and 80 others. 

Only one of the incredible Mizners could have laid out Boca 
Raton. Had he started a year before, we might have there another 
Coral Gables, but unfortunately Boca Raton went on the market 
in June, 1925, sold $9,000,000 in lots in as many weeks, and gently 
subsided before the great Ritz-Carlton Hotel could be built, or the 
dozens of millionaire stockholders could begin to line its Camino 
Real with their estates. 

Not long ago, a paragraph in the newspapers told of the fed- 
eral court here approving a plan of reorganization of Addison 
Mizner, Inc., involving refinancing to the extent of $130,000. The 
Cloister, which Mizner built as a sort of warming-up exercise and 
administration building while his bigger plans gained momentum, 
was bought several years ago by Clarence H. Geist, Philadelphia 
public utilities owner, and made into the exclusive Boca Raton club. 
It was opened in February, 1926, and cost $10,000 a room. The 
remainder of Boca Raton is modestly catching hold again, like so 
many south Florida communities in the last three years. 

Addison Mizner came to Florida in 1918, after association with 
Stanford White in New York, and was famous in his own right long 
before the boom. Seeing others make whole cities out of their 
dreams, he became restless and in April, 1925, bought two miles of 
ocean front and 16,000 acres from the Southeast Coast Land Com- 
pany, back of what then was Boca Ratone. The "e" was soon 
dropped. Associated with him were many of the best names in 
Palm Beach, England or Paris. Chairman of the board of directors 
of the Mizner Development Corporation was T. Coleman duPont, 
United States senator from Delaware. Jesse Livermore, famous 
Wall Street operator, was chairman of the finance committee. The 
youngest Mizner, Wilson, world-famous wit and author, pitched in 
as secretary-treasurer and chief ballyhoo artist. 

"Pioneering with men of affairs" was the Mizner motto, car- 
ried in a series of advertisements which truly were classics of the 
boom. While Addison was tracing out the Utopia, his brother 
Wilson "stood toe to toe with the loudest liars available and out- 
predicted them," as he declares in his biographical recitals of Flor- 
ida days. "It was good fun while it lasted," he adds. "I learned 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

with thousands of others that braying alone will make an ass 

Miami began to look upon Addison Mizner as one of the real 
he-men of the boom when he came to Flagler street and leased Ye 
Wayside Inn, west of the Halcyon Arcade, from Mary Dodson 
Swift, on a valuation of $1,500,000 and began talking about an 
18-story building there for 1926. 

Next to the vibrant Shoreland Company offices, which now 
contain the Duval Jewelry Company, Jules' and the Seaboard 
offices, Addison Mizner erected his Flagler street offices right over 
the heads of his buzzing sales force. The Mizner office was put 
up without interruption of the sales work, and the only pause in 
the banging of hammers and cries of the workmen came when the 
salesmen had their 15-minute daily pep talk, or when some impetu- 
ous buyer called in by long distance. It is recounted that when 
the carpenters saw the aged doors from some Spanish castle being 
unloaded, they thought Mr. Mizner was playing a prank on them. 
But they quickly learned Mizner was not joking. Even the patrons 
of Child's restaurant today, if they take time out from their soup 
or cocktail to look around them in the former Boca Raton sales- 
room, can discover that Addison Mizner was the peer of any de- 
signer in Florida. 

Boca Raton picked up headway quickly. In August construc- 
tion was started on The Cloister and in September Mizner let 
$7,000,000 in contracts for the Boca Raton Ritz-Carlton Hotel he 
had designed, and for a bridge over the East Coast canal to connect 
the seashore with the 160-foot wide Camino Real, to stretch six 
miles across the Dixie highway and into the Everglades. For the 
Mizners were not building on millionaires alone. They looked 
toward the muck lands of the Everglades for sustaining agriculture 
to give their seaside Olympus an earthy backbone. "The citrus 
farming outlook was equipped with rose-colored lemons suitable 
for all-day suckers," comments Wilson in retrospect. 

"Right up to January, 1926, it was only necessary to point 
carelessly to a mudhole and tell a prospect that there was his for- 
tune," goes on this veteran of a thousand fortune hunts. "He could 
not deny it, and even the salesman was in deadly fear that he spoke 
the truth. For Florida had something to sell, at that. Something 
priceless, however scandalous the actual sound of prices might 
have been after various acts of God and man placed a cosmic pin 
into one of the most perfectly gassed realty balloons of all time." 

The work of Addison Mizner in Palm Beach is timeless and 
unique. That he could not rear even loftier mansions in Boca Raton 
and give to the world that further expression of his great mind is 
truly a tragedy of the boom. But at least, as his inimitable brother 
declares, Addison Mizner "saved this beautiful area from Middle 
West Queen Anne houses and stark New England architecture," 
which entitles him to one of the front seats in the Florida halls of 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

While Paris Singer was far from being in the Mizner class, the 
two names were linked so often in those times that it is not inappro- 
priate to tell here about "Singer's Folly" and other experiences of 
this heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune. 

In the hero-worshiping haze of boom times, Paris Singer came 
into public notice with the financing of the Everglades club, which 
Addison Mizner created. A few months ago this club was sold by 
the bondholders for $450,000, a fraction of its cost, and the older 
Beach aristocracy which again controls it hopes to restore within 
its sacred walls some of the social refinements of other days in 
Palm Beach. 

Paris Singer also built the massive display rooms and gallery 
at the Palm Beach end of the viaduct, but his best-known exploit 
was at Palm Beach Ocean, where he put up the Blue Heron Hotel, 
most magnificent wreck of the entire postboom period. 

Palm Beach Ocean was a subdivision extending along the sea- 
shore for a mile north of Lake Worth inlet, which separated it from 
the northern part of Palm Beach. Practically every lot was sold 
and $2,000,000 had been poured into the Blue Heron, "Singer's 
Folly," before his money ran out. Workmen were installing the 
furnishings and soon it w T ould have been finished, but there was 
nothing he could use for money at the end. Two hurricanes vir- 
tually ruined the Blue Heron, but it still is being worried by cred- 
itors, who hope, faintly by this time, to get something out of their 

Not a house was built on Palm Beach Ocean. But it has one 
of the finest sand beaches on the East Coast, and a causeway built 
this year gives Kelsey City and Riviera access to it. So there is 
every prospect that when and if the tangled titles to the lots are 
unraveled, Palm Beach Ocean may blossom with homes to replace 
the barren wastes which for so long have served as a background 
for the lonely majesty of the Blue Heron. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ ? 


THE "BINDER BOY" was a peculiar outcropping of the Florida 
boom and was evident in obnoxious numbers from March 
through August, 1925. At the end of that period, the binder 
boys began leaving Miami and other boom centers like angry bees 
out of a hive, many so impoverished that they were glad to get 
space in empty Northbound freight trains. 

A composite picture of the binder boy possibly would reveal 
an individual slightly under normal height, never very clean or 
neat, bending every effort to make a lot of money in a hurry with- 
out the slightest pretense of remaining in Florida once that was 
done. He was attired in golf knickers, because they didn't need 
pressing nor the addition of a coat, and the binder boy made the 
knicker at one time standard male daytime garb in almost any gath- 
ering, even church. 

He spoke in a peculiar dialect, which soon had even the na- 
tives pronouncing the word "binder" to rhyme with "cinder" 
instead of with "kinder." He slept in hotel or rooming house halls, 
three and four to a single room, or wherever he could find tem- 
porary space. 

Headquarters in Miami for the binder boys was the Ponce de 
Leon Hotel, principally because it was the largest downtown com- 
mercial hotel close to the big real estate offices. The binder boys 
never got very near the tourist hotels. The Ponce de Leon was 
operated until 1925 by W. P. (Cutey) Pearce, former Jacksonville 
hotel and restaurant owner. He sold it in 1925 to Emmett Robin- 
son, owner at that time of the Aragon Hotel in Jacksonville. Pre- 
viously it was the property of the McAllister estate. Aside from 
that brief visitation in 1925, it always has had a normal clientele. 
It was sold by the controlling bondholders to new owners a short 
time ago, according to reports. 

By July the routine of the incoming real estate operators was 
stripped down to bare essentials. They alighted from the train and 
looked about for someone who knew his way out of the depot. "Is 
this Miami?" usually was the first question. Then, "Where can I 
rent an office?" "What is the price of acreage?" By the first of 
July, the city of Miami had issued 5,917 real estate brokers' licenses 
and was putting new ones out at the rate of 60 a day. 

That was the only time that a Miami journal ever went on 
record as opposing the immigration of honest and law-abiding citi- 
zens. Somewhat wearily, The Herald declared, "We no longer get 
a thrill out of the announcement that someone is coming to Miami 
to engage in the real estate business. We really feel that Miami 
has all the real estate dealers necessary." One might as well have 
whistled into a gale ! 

The mechanics of the binder were not complex. It is the cus- 
tomary thing now, as then, for a person contracting to buy a lot 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

for, say, $5,000, to put up 10 per cent or less of the agreed purchase 
price to seal the bargain until the necessary formalities could be 
gone through with to close the deal. The buyer would receive a 
binder receipt, and at the end of 30 days would pay possibly an- 
other 15 per cent to complete the first payment upon the transfer 
of the property. 

But the binder boys who came here upon the heels of the ab- 
breviated 1924-25 winter season found that binders were just as 
good as money. Having more native shrewdness than capital, they 
first began swapping binders among themselves in the crowds that 
overflowed into Flagler street from the Ponce de Leon lobby. First 
they made small profits on the binders themselves, and then quickly 
worked into the business of running up the price of a lot through 
several transactions while the lot still was on one binder. 

The movement spread like wildfire, something similar to the 
margin speculating on the New York Stock Exchange, and for five 
months at least the binder boys set a pace that had the ordinary 
citizens glassy-eyed and breathless. 

It was not unusual, real estate men declare, for a lot to change 
hands as many as eight times from the day when the first buyer 
got his binder until the deal finally was closed. When closing time 
came, the buyers would group around the papers like hungry boys 
around a picnic pie, each with his real estate man at his elbow 
ready to take a slice out of the profits. Usually, by trading papers, 
it was possible for a deed to issue only to the last buyer, but it might 
have seven or eight mortgages clinging to it like ticks on a cow, 
each representing the profit of one of the principals along the line. 
The real estate brokers usually got most of the actual cash involved. 

The hours of the binder boy were from 9 o'clock until 2 in the 
afternoon, when the banks closed. Checks were rushed at once to 
depositories for the cash. Time was the very essence of success 
until midafternoon arrived, w T hen a check became just another 
piece of paper. 

Several highly entertaining fiction stories were printed after 
the boom, attempting to show that the phenomenal sale of Semi- 
nole Beach early in August was deliberately planned to drive the 
binder boys out of Miami Beach, and that it really broke the back 
of the boom. These appeared from the pens of Kenneth Roberts 
in The Saturday Evening Post and Ida Tarbell in McClure's. Henry 
Ford's Dearborn Independent also treated of the subject. 

Two versions were evolved by these writers. One had it that 
only alternate strips of Seminole Beach were sold on the first day, 
and that after all the binder boys had flocked in and were hooked 
the parallel unsold strips were thrown on the market a few days 
later at greatly reduced prices, and the binder equities dissolved 
like snowballs in the hot place. The other version said that after 
Seminole Beach was sold, the same interests opened adjoining sub- 
divisions of equal merit but much lower-priced, to destroy the value 
of the lots on which the binder boys had sunk their all. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

Records of the times show, however, that all of Seminole Beach 
was sold in one day, and was resold within a few days thereafter. 
They also show that while two parts of Golden Beach were put on 
the market soon after to capitalize on their nearness to the famous 
Seminole Beach, the prices were approximately the same and the 
volume of sales inconsiderable when other contemporaneous sales 
are considered. But it made good reading. 

The first signs of breaking in the upward flight of values 
occurred about the middle of August on Miami Beach, where the 
very choicest properties were. At that time an unusually observant 
sales executive noted that one of his lots which had started at 
$7,000 and had gone to $50,000 on binders was not sold to the last 
bidder. Instead, the last one and several below him had to sacrifice 
their binders and let the lot slide back down to $25,000, where it 
finally was taken. The crest was passed then, and although they 
were a long time in finding it out in the hinterland, the sales feature 
of the Florida boom was drawing to a close. 

The binder boy went as he came, only some left on the tie-rods 
and for several years thereafter contributed no little to the un- 
favorable attitude toward Florida that persists in some quarters 
of the country. It is of the binder boy that we think when we 
shudder gently and cry, "Deliver us from another such boom!" 

While south Florida was establishing new records for build- 
ing in July, 1925, the boom had run up the advertising volume of 
The Miami Herald to put it in first place among the newspapers of 
the world for the first six months of that year. 

The Herald led its nearest competitor, The Detroit News, with 
an eighth more advertising. The Chicago Tribune and The New 
York Times were far back in the field. No other Florida news- 
paper came close to The Herald's volume. 

This is recited not boastfully, but as another of the almost 
unbelievable effects of Florida's land rush. From 48 to 56 pages 
daily was the low average up to July, and it went up to 88 pages 
daily quite frequently until the following February. The Sunday 
Herald usually ran from 112 pages up to 168 pages. At one time 
there were 25 solid pages of classified ads alone in a Sunday 
Herald, and it was not unusual in August and September to see 
20 pages of classifieds. Even The Miami News' special edition of 
504 pages in July, issued when that newspaper opened its new 
plant and tower on the bayfront, did not owe its unique size to 
boom advertising of general state coverage so much as to free- 
handed spending on the part of the many concerns which took 
part in the construction and outfitting of the tower. 

The lead which The Miami Herald maintained through the 
boom was due in part to the journalistic genius of O. W. Kennedy, 
the managing editor, and in part to the mastery of circulation and 
classified advertising of George V. Harper, the business manager. 
In reviewing the columns of those days it is significant that the 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

developers and land owners who could afford to advertise only 
in one newspaper, picked The Herald, while those who had plenty 
of publicity budget adopted others also. 

Attracted to Miami in July was the East Coast Chamber of 
Commerce, which listened to Florida East Coast railroad officials 
declare that their railroad would be ready by January 1 to handle 
all freight. Most prominent among delegates was David Sholtz, 
president of Daytona's chamber, largest in the state. Because of 
his energy in local civic matters, Sholtz was given the nickname of 
"auctioneer" in Daytona, a title he shed when he became the suc- 
cessful candidate for governor seven years later. 

The long simmering fires under the state road department 
broke out in the middle of June when Gov. John W. Martin sum- 
marily dismissed Chairman H. B. Philips and William M. Corry, 
Quincy members, telling them, "You are not in sympathy with 
this administration in its determination to take Florida out of the 
sand and the mud and put her people on paved highways." The 
specific charges were "incompetency and neglect of duty." Dr. 
Fons A. Hathaway, secretary to the governor, was promoted to 
chairmanship of the state road department, predicted early com- 
pletion of the Dixie highway and the Tamiami Trail, and forthwith 
began calling lagging contractors on the carpet. 

Harvey Bayliss, mayor of Pensacola, took Corry's place in the 
department and joined Hathaway in checking up on the road con- 
tractors who were inclined to let the state work lag while borrow- 
ing against state contracts to push more lucrative private paving. 
They were given the option of producing state roads or seeing their 
contracts annulled, and business picked up in that department at 
once. Hathaway may have been a poor politician, but as an execu- 
tive officer he had few equals. 

Among the procession from Georgia noted at this time was 
E. C. Collins, prominent citizen of Macon, who came to Miami to 
make his home for 11 years. L. T. Cooper came hurrying back 
from his Dayton home to jump again into the boom at El Portal. 
John Gruelle arrived from the North to locate on Miami Beach. 
Charles Rodes of Fort Lauderdale, the man who invented the 
synthetic water front lot in his subdivision of Venice, loaded 50 
relatives in two chartered pullmans and set out for a trip to the 
West that sent back echoes from nearly every way station. 

The ill-fated Pompano race track was started in June, with 
the purchase of 180 acres near the town of Pompano from L. T. 
Cooper. A perfect rash of subdivisions broke out around it. Joe 
H. Adams got the track charter and with him were Charles H. 
Hyde, R. E. Hall, J. K. Dorn and several New York associates. The 
track was to open in February and did enjoy one season, until the 
State Supreme court ruled pari mutuel wagering illegal. It was 
then that Governor Martin issued his famous threat that he would 
"send the militia down there with a tractor and plow up the Pom- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

pano track and plant it to cowpeas" if the owners attempted to 
run with gambling. The track did not run. 

Fort Myers was starting a $300,000 fishing pier on local sub- 
scription. The Tampa Tribune, leading West Coast daily, was 
sold by Col. Wallace Stovall for $1,200,000 to a group of Tampans 
headed by Dr. L. A. Bize, who was to attain some notoriety later 
with crashing banks. Colonel Stovall quit journalism for real 
estate, but it wasn't three weeks before he was back in again with 
The Tampa Telegraph, which fell a victim to the early Florida 

New Smyrna was preparing to become the equal of the ports 
of Miami or Jacksonville on the strength of a $1,500,000 bond issue 
which had been rushed through the legislature to provide funds 
for cutting a channel from the ocean through Mosquito inlet. 
Charles B. Griner of Jacksonville leased the Pelican Hotel in 
Stuart and the new county of Martin cast about for a winter home- 
site to be presented to Governor Martin as a thank offering. John 
D. Rockefeller, sr., sold his Ormond home to his son, John D., jr., 
for $191,000, along with all his other property, but his son still 
permits him to live there. 

At Miami Beach Carl G. Fisher's new $400,000 estate on 
Surprise waterway was under construction, replacing The Shadows. 
His companies sold two tracts on the beach opposite Allison island 
for $1,948,000 to Lyle C. Hall of St. Marys, Pa. This, with addi- 
tional land, was to become the site of the Gulf Stream apartments. 
The fame of Fisher's name gave the unscrupulous some chance to 
capitalize on it by rumors that he was buying elsewhere in Florida. 
Before going North for the summer Fisher had inserted advertise- 
ments all over Florida, declaring he would not invest in any Florida 
land outside of Miami Beach. At that time it was reported that 
of 3,000 lots developed originally by Fisher, only 246 remained 

The Shoreland Company of Anderson and Wright let a $2,000,- 
000 dredging contract to fill in 400 acres at Arch creek, to make 
a seawall in front of the mainland property, and to join two sub- 
merged islands and make what is today the Indian Creek Golf 
Course island, but known then as the Miami Shores island. 

The St. Joseph's College for Girls was finished in Coral Gables. 
The St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove was putting 
up a new building costing $150,000 with a $40,000 pipe organ. 
The artists and architects of Coral Gables took time off to visit 
New York, where they executed an "abracadabra" in front of the 
prosaic Rand building and changed it into a Mediterranean facade 
before the startled eyes of New Yorkers. A similar transforma- 
tion put a Coral Gables touch on Peachtree street in Atlanta, from 
whence special trains were bringing eager prospects — 300 at a clip. 

Miami was so busy with its new skyscrapers, its thousands o/ 
subdivisions and its plans for annexation that it didn't even notice 
the mosquitoes that summer. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILL IONS $ $ $ 

. . . even Moorish architecture like this at Opa-Locka was not considered 
too bizarre to entice boom customers. — B rower Photo. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


IN ONE of those periodic flare-ups which have kept Hialeah near 
the political boiling point since its founding, J. H. Wendler was 
shot and at first believed fatally wounded in his Hialeah Herald 
office one day in the middle of July, 1925. The act brought acutely 
to public notice the struggle then in progress at the Curtiss-Bright 
development to give birth to municipal government. 

Wendler's shooting was not directly connected with the fact 
that he had made himself mayor of the "Town of Hialeah" with 
28 votes a short time before, his "town" being that part north of 
Seventeenth street. He fell before a revolver handled by William 
Simpson when Simpson and a companion called upon Wendler to 
make him return a special deputy sheriff's certificate which 
Wendler was reluctant to disgorge. 

But while Wendler, the firebrand, was out of commission and 
nursing his wounds, the citizens south of the line incorporated the 
city of Hialeah and on September 10, 1925, formally elected Jack 
P. Grethen their first mayor. They feared Wendler's crowd would 
reach down and annex them, willy nilly, and more than one angry 
mass meeting had preceded the shooting. The charter was passed 
by the legislature in special session that fall. 

We have observed that Hialeah was running a political tem- 
perature most of the time during its early years, and yet this sec- 
tion has never seen two more pacific and kindly men than its 
founders, Glenn H. Curtiss, the seaplane inventor, and James H. 
Bright, the rancher. 

According to one of the sages of that day, Hialeah is a Semi- 
nole word meaning "best pearl in a heap." The townsite was 
platted on the banks of the Miami canal in 1921 from a part of 
the 16,000 acres of the Curtiss-Bright Ranch Company. Bright 
had come there looking for a place to fatten cattle and sheep and 
had met Glenn Curtiss during the war when the latter was training 
service fliers in and around Miami. 

Aviation, horse and dog racing, movie studios, airplane fac- 
tories, jai alai, bootlegging, gambling and many other activities 
made Hialeah a melting pot for divers elements during and after 
the boom. "Hialeah rye" became a standard grade of refresh- 
ment in south Florida. Old Hialeah Field was cut into lots in 
July, 1925, and the present municipal aviation field established 
by Curtiss on 160 acres north of Hialeah. His administration 
building on the bank of the canal cost $75,000. 

While Hialeah was the center of all sorts of amusements, 
Curtiss and Bright were laying* out more quiet home sectors in 
Country Club Estates, just across the canal, and in Opa-Locka, 
north of the Tropical Radio Company towers. Country Club Es- 
tates in later years became Miami Springs, a debt-free community 
rapidly making its mark as a desirable homesite surrounding the 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

Miami municipal golf course, in which are located the wells sup- 
plying Miami and other communities with fresh water. The 
pueblo-type hotel which Curtiss-Bright erected during the boom 
has become the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Opa-Locka went in for 
a rather garish type of Moorish architecture, the first outpost to 
greet the Seaboard on its way into Miami. This city was laid out in 
July by Clinton McKenzie, who had designed Country Club Estates. 
It occupies what once was Cook's Hammock, west of the Little 
River slough. 

Meantime, in Miami, the Baeder Properties, Inc., was formed 
to invest $100,000,000 in Miami and Florida for the United Cigar 
Stores. H. H. Trice was vice president and principal buying agent. 
One million had gone for the Biscayne Hotel on the corner of 
Flagler and Miami avenue. Four hundred thousand had gone into 
three lots at N. E. First avenue and Sixth street. One lot the 
company still owns, 50 feet on W. Flagler street between Sixteenth 
and Seventeenth avenues, cost $40,000. They offered $105,000 
for a 50-foot lot on Clematis avenue in West Palm Beach and 
$240,000 for another 100 feet on Clematis next to the Stanley 

Financial lightning was playing all around the Halcyon Hotel 
at this time, but it never struck. The property was bought in 1911 
by Thomas J. Peters for $388,000 and the owner is said to have 
refused $5,000,000 for it in 1924 and more than $6,000,000 in 
1925. The income alone on the hotel for 12 months during the 
peak of the boom was $519,000, but it finally went at forced sale 
in 1934 for $333,600, and today is owned by the duPont-Ball group 
of Jacksonville. 

The Royal Palm Hotel and its spacious grounds also came 
through the boom untouched. Located on land donated to Henry 
M. Flagler by Mrs. Julia Tuttle when she interested the railroad 
magnate in extending his railroad to Miami, the Royal Palm and 
the adjoining Royal Palm Park of his Model Land Company were 
a constant temptation to every big-moneyed character in the boom. 

The largest offer for the purchase of the hotel site of which 
we have knowledge was made by a group composed of S. P. Robi- 
neau, L. T. Cooper, Mercer P. Moseley and their New York 
associates, who tempted the Flagler trustees with $10,000,000. 
This was refused, along with all others, and the great Royal Palm, 
whose construction gave Miami its start as a winter resort, finally 
was torn down as unsafe a few years ago. 

The Miami banks were loaded with $129,088,546 by the first 
of July, 1925, of which the First National Bank alone had 
$40,898,000. At the same time in 1924 the combined bank de- 
posits in Miami were only $36,704,651. Reports current that the 
Miami banks were so busy they had been compelled to refuse 
numerous large deposits were emphatically denied, but it was not 
far from the truth because long lines were strung out all day from 
every teller's window like serpentine streamers in a ballroom. 

Those were the days, it may be recalled, when E. C. Romfh of 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

the First National was openly discussed as a traitor to his com- 
munity because he wouldn't lend money on real estate as did the 
Bank of Bay Biscayne, the Southern Bank and Trust Company, 
the Dade County Security Company and a dozen lesser institutions. 
If there was one thing that held Miami back, the citizens com- 
plained, it was Ed Romfh sitting up there with both fists full of 
money and too tight to turn it loose. 

Well, when the First National reached its peak in September, 
Ed Romfh's fists bulged with $66,798,221 in deposits and still he 
wouldn't pour it into the glamorous subdivisions crying for capital, 
nor into the skyscraper blueprints aching to be born. Instead, 
his bank at that financial crest had $56,000,000 in cash and mar- 
ketable securities, 89 per cent liquid, and was preparing for the 
long toboggan slide down hill. 

The slide started swiftly and the First National reached the 
bottom of $11,837,353 in deposits in September, 1931, and then 
was 92 per cent liquid, while the more generous members of the 
Miami banking fraternity were crashing with reverberations reach- 
ing into nearly every home in south Florida. The First National 
Bank has climbed up again to more than $30,000,000 in deposits 
and presumably another boom will find Ed Romfh as president 
again holding with both hands to the money placed with him for 

Perhaps it has no place in a story of the 1925 boom, but as 
we recapture the period when money poured into Miami from every 
watering place in the nation, memory skips down the few short 
years to those summer days when long lines of heartsick people 

waited in vain before the closed 
doors of the once proud Bank of 
Bay Biscayne and the City Na- 
tional Bank In Miami, while E. C. 
Romfh circulated among the 
equally anxious crowds in his own 
lobby and invited them to come 
get their money. It was all there, 
and he kept the First National 
open as long as lines were waiting 
to reach the windows. 

Last year before the Florida 
Bankers Association, President 
Romfh delivered one of his infre- 
quent speeches, in which he said, 
"I have lived in southeast Florida 
for more than 50 years. I have 
seen this section grow from the 
wagon trails to the iron horse, 
the automobile and the airplane; 
from huts to homes and palaces 
. . . unless one has operated a 

Edward C. Romfh 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ ? 

bank on this last of the frontiers of these United States, one has 
never felt the chill and the thrill of a flight into the financial 
stratosphere and the tailspin back to realities and headaches. . . . 
In a speech in Royal Palm park back in 1921, I made the statement 
that banks are 'busted' from the inside, not the outside, and that 
a bank with a board of directors of ordinary intelligence with an 
honest desire to obey the law does not fail." 

It was such doctrine that convinced some of the excited public 
in Miami in 1925 that Ed Romfh was an old fogey who might better 
be retired on a pension so some young fellow with the right slant on 
local conditions could take hold and really make things hum. 

While scores of young men and girls slept in Miami's city parks 
because they could find no rooms at any price, Miami suddenly 
sprouted its skyscraper skyline in July and August, 1925. Sixteen 
great hotels and office buildings were completed, from the News 
Tower to the McAllister Hotel along the bayfront. Fourteen others 
from the Roosevelt Hotel to the forest of steel girders in the center 
of the city struck their snaggle-toothed frames higher day by day. 

The problem of housing was giving nearly every employe and 
the city fathers dancing black spots before the eyes. Chief of 
Police Quigg told the city commission they either should build 
apartments for the policemen or make an extra allowance in pay 
to meet jumping rents, otherwise he would have great difficulty 
keeping enough policemen. Several business houses bought or 
built whole apartment buildings so they might have help at normal 
wages. These costly appendages hung on for years to contribute 
grief to postboom liquidations. 

E. G. Sewell urged the county commissioners to offer Comer- 
Ebsary Foundation Company a bonus to speed the widening of 
the viaducts on the county causeway, which finally were completed 
in February, 1926. Bob Simpson, the county tax collector, added 
his voice to the rest of the county chorus demanding more room. 
The city garbage department was placing from 20 to 35 cans a 
day in new homes. Carl G. Fisher put up 100 army tents at Miami 
Beach to house his workmen, all other accommodations failing. 
The noise of riveting, the dust from great trucks loaded with 
cement, the heat and rush and tension always in the air as men 
and women strained toward the acquisition of profits sent many 
to the doctor with nervous indigestion, while others escaped on 
their first — and last — trip to Europe, convinced that the boom 
still would be there when they should return. 

Miami was saddened late in July by two deaths, both unex- 
pected, both striking down prominent figures of the boom. Wil- 
liam Jennings Bryan died in the little Tennessee town of Dayton, 
after winning a conviction in the famous evolution trial of John 
Thomas Scopes, the teacher. Mayor Parker A. Henderson died 
of apoplexy not long after he had joined Miami's banker com- 

Bryan fell victim to about the only form of intemperance he 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

did not fight — overeating. His passing took from Florida a great 
national character, who had come to the state 25 years before 
when his cousin, W. S. Jennings of Jacksonville, was inaugurated 
governor. For 15 years, Bryan had been a Miami resident, living 
quietly in the bayfront home he and Mrs. Bryan first made famous, 
Villa Serena, and later at Marymont, in Coconut Grove. He 
taught America's largest Bible class in Royal Palm park, which 
opened its eighth season in 1925 with 8,000 members. 

Probation of Bryan's will revealed that he had spoken the 
truth several months before when he sent a public denial to The 
Tampa Tribune's statement that he was already a millionaire. Be- 
tween $500,000 and $600,000 made up the Bryan estate, most of 
it going to the widow, some to what is now Bryan Memorial Church 
in Coconut Grove, the former Grove Temple. 

Parker Henderson left nearly $1,500,000, as values were com- 
puted then. The Miami commission forthwith called on Banker 
E. C. Romfh to come back and be mayor again, which he finally 
agreed to do. 

The pleasant publicity which had started the boom in the 
North had turned to gall and wormwood by August, 1925. The 
Indianapolis Times, for instance, complained: "Literally thousands 
of persons are leaving the state in search of something for nothing 
in the land of oranges and speculators." Storage warehouses in 
Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York were bulging 
with the household effects of those who had pulled up their stakes 
and gone to Florida, hoping they would become so wealthy they 
need never come back. Bankers, newspapers and real estate in- 
terests of the Middle West viewed this wholesale departure aghast, 
and were not long in taking more direct means of putting on the 

Another novelty greeted the arrival of August. Large signs 
began to appear on houses and choice property: "This Corner Not 
For Sale," "Not Interested In Selling," and the like. Some home 
owners by then were afraid to sell, no matter how fancy the price, 
because they knew they would have to pay even more to get 
another roof over their heads. Not a few figured that by holding 
on until the tourists came back, they would realize even more than 
the "summer vacationers" were offering. 

The new Railey-Milam hardware building was nearing com- 
pletion on the site of Miami's first livery stable. Two New Yorkers 
bought the William Penn Hotel at Miami Beach for $750,000. 
Within three days, Roy Wright and Hugh Anderson made definite 
announcements of construction of the $2,000,000 Venetian Arcade 
and the $2,500,000 Shoreland Arcade, each to be three stories that 
year, and 15 stories more in the near future, Jerry W. Carter's 
state hotel commission set a new record by approving $8,000,000 
worth of Miami hotels and apartments in 48 hours. Fifty freight 
carloads of portable one-room school houses were ordered by the 
Dade county school board to take care of 1,500 new pupils that 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

fall, as the board contemplated attendance of 30,000, almost what 
it is today. 

The largest order for homes ever signed up to that time was 
placed on the first of August by George E. Merrick of Coral Gables 
with the American Building Corporation of Cincinnati, in a contract 
involving $75,000,000 worth of completed houses and property. 
The American Building Corporation was to construct 1,000 homes 
in Coral Gables, many to retail at $100,000 each. R. K. LeBlond 
of Cincinnati headed the company, and the construction firm of 
Myers Y. Cooper, former Ohio governor, was brought in for the 

Merrick gathered 12 of the finest architects in the country to 
plan the houses, which were to be Persian, Dutch South African, 
French, Italian, Chinese, Spanish and many other national types. 
It was an undertaking that dwarfed the activities of Lindsey Hop- 
kins of Atlanta who then was putting 100 houses into Coral Gables. 

Actually, 100 houses were completed by the American Build- 
ing Corporation, including the Italian, French, Venetian, South 
African Dutch and Chinese villages in existence today. Between 
§3,000,000 and $4,000,000 was spent on them before the boom 
started to fade, selling at from $20,000 to $100,000. It is no wonder 
that Coral Gables is a place of magnificent residences, even though 
some of them are pretty far out in the country. 

While whole clusters of houses were going up, Coral Gables 
acquired two of the outstanding white elephants of this whole 
area, in the Coliseum and the million-dollar Douglas entrance gate. 
The entrance archway was built by the John B. Orr Company and 
designed by Denman Fink and Phineas Paist, the head architects 
of Coral Gables. The Coliseum was a promotion of a group led 
by J. K. Dorn, and it also was reputed to cost $1,000,000. Built 
to seat 7,200 people, the acoustics and arrangement were such that 
it was virtually discarded for years, and only recently it and the 
Douglas entrance have come into better days. 

While these great activities were boosting the boom onward 
and upward, the big money boys got another jolt about the first of 
August. The United States commissioner of internal revenue ruled 
that the entire amount of the purchase price for real estate must 
be reported as income, not the 25 per cent first payment, as 
Miamians had believed all along. That put a new light on the 
fast approaching time for income tax payment, and sent many a 
high financier off into a corner — preferably out of Florida — to 
think matters over. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ ? 


BY THE sheer wizardry of his name, a perky blue-eyed amateur 
golfer of Miami Beach executed the most amazing sale of the 
entire boom, without a line of advertising or advance notice. 
N. B. T. Roney was the name. "Newton Bath Tub" was the 
moniker applied to him privately by correspondents of those days 
to remember the correct arrangement of the initials, just as they 
sometimes referred to F. C. B. LeGro as "Fresh Country Butter." 
During 1925, N. B. T. Roney was a name that appeared often in the 
big news, and he was regarded in many quarters almost as a 
magician who made money spout out of ventures like rabbits out of 
a silk hat. 

Because he was so well known, the crush at his office broke all 
existing records in the sale and resale of Seminole Beach early in 
August, and of that we shall treat more fully in a subsequent chap- 
ter. Thereafter, Roney started for a Eurpean trip to meet his wife, 
then overseas; was an interested and thoughtful listener at the 
Waldorf dinner in New York that October, where Florida's leaders 
reaffirmed their faith in the state ; and returned on the SS. H. F. 
Alexander to begin selling his holdings of unimproved property 
for what he could get. He had the Roney Plaza Hotel and 30 other 
buildings representing $5,000,000 worth of construction under way 
at that time. 

Soft-spoken, slightly built, with snappy eyes lighting a face 
tanned almost to sepia by long hours on the golf courses, Roney 
today looks back upon an acquaintance with Miami dating to 1909, 

when he was returning to his 
home in Camden, N. J., after a 
visit to Cuba. In New Jersey he 
was a lawyer, real estate and 
building operator, and political 
force. The present form of city 
government in Camden was the 
result of a series of political fights 
headed and financed by Roney. 
When he came back to Miami in 
1917 on a visit, he dropped all 
other roles and by 1918 was a 
full-fledged real estate owner 
and resident in Miami. 

His first building was at 
Flagler street and Twelfth ave- 
nue, in the days when that avenue 
was called Lawrence Drive. Dur- 
ing 1918 he purchased the foot of 
Flagler street, where Elser Pier 
stood. He sold this a year or so 
later to a company headed by 

N. B. T. Roney 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

Locke T. Highleyman, then president of the Fidelity Bank and 
Trust Company. We have already seen how Elser Pier was 
condemned and taken over by the city of Miami after the rest of 
what is now Bayfront park was bought from the Model Land 
Company and the F. E. C. in 1921. 

Another early Roney buy was the Biscayne Hotel, at Bur- 
dine's corner of Flagler and Miami avenue. He got it for $210,000, 
and sold it early in 1925 to the United Cigar Stores for $1,000,000. 
Through the boom his signature on signboards decorating his 
property was liberally scattered over Miami, but his principal 
activity was on Miami Beach, where, in 1918, he began a seven- 
year campaign of buying which yielded him an assortment of the 
best corners in many sections of the city. 

He started buying at Miami Beach with the purchase of five 
ocean front lots for $16,000 through J. N. Lummus, lots he later 
sold for $150,000. In 1919 he purchased the J. E. Lummus holdings 
in the Miami Ocean View Company for $40,000. About the same 
time he bought the Miami Beach property of the Burroughs estate 
of Portland, Me., more than four blocks on Washington and Collins 
avenues north of Fifth street. 

About 1922 or 1923 he was responsible for the organization 
of the Miami Beach Bank and Trust Company and was one of the 
largest stockholders, although never active in that institution. At 
that time he also supplied the first funds that brought about the 
organization of the original Miami Tribune. 

By 1920, Roney began building on a large scale at Miami 
Beach, principally business structures. By 1925 he owned build- 
ings comprising 200 shop units from Collins avenue and Third 
street to Twenty-third street, all within two blocks of the ocean. 
Prior to the erection of the Roney Plaza, he put up eight small 
hotels. One of his most picturesque ventures was the construc- 
tion of the Spanish Village in Miami Beach, made up of 18 build- 
ings on two blocks of Espanola Way. It was his idea that people 
wanted a touch of old Spain, and he gave it to them. 

Roney returned from the New York meeting with doubt in his 
heart, and began to struggle with the embargo which had clamped 
down in August. They were pouring the top floor of the Roney 
Plaza Hotel, and 30 of his other buildings were in various stages 
of construction, with no materials in sight. Five hundred thousand 
dollars worth of hotel furnishings and equipment was on the way, 
including shipments from five foreign countries. He saw thousands 
of dollars' worth of his equipment ruined in barging it from vessels 
anchored along Miami Beach, unable to get into Miami harbor. 
He is of the opinion the embargo did him more damage than the 
later Florida crash, at which time he had converted many assets in 
vacant lots into income property. 

News of the boom was studded with big deals involving Roney. 
In March, 1925, he gave this area a thrill by taking a commanding 
hold of the most important beach section by paying what then was 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

reported as $2,500,000 for eight homes and the seaside holdings 
of the Fisher companies from Fifteenth to Twentieth streets. The 
homes included The Shadows, Carl Fisher's first home. 

Just before this, Roney had paid $800,000 for the Roman 
Pools, the Casino and adjoining stores. Numerous purchases of 
land north of Miami Beach and scattered ocean front properties 
in this city brought his investment along the ocean to about 

During 1924 and a few years preceding, Roney occasionally 
stepped over into Miami and bought large tracts, including the 
Milam Dairy and the Francis S. Whitten bayfront property at N. E. 
Fifty-fifth street adjoining the Deering estate. The price on this 
latter was $1,000,000. Only recently it was put on the market 
again by Whitten through the George E. Merrick organization as 
Bayshore Plaza, after the city of Miami bought a chunk of it for a 
park along the bay. 

When the national depression was making itself felt in 1931, 
Roney spent $200,000 in constructing the pool and cabana colony 
of the Roney Plaza in order to maintain his hotel rates and busi- 
ness. In the last year of his hotel operation, before he sold to 
Henry L. Doherty, he conducted probably the largest hotel adver- 
tising campaign in Florida. More than $100,000 was spent in 80 
national magazines, more than 100 newspapers and 15 radio sta- 
tions, all concentrated in a period of six weeks — a campaign that 
proved highly satisfactory. During this last season of manage- 
ment he also was president of the Miami Biltmore Hotel, stepping 
in when John McEntee Bowman died. After Roney's first deal 
with Doherty, he set up and named the Florida Year-Round 

In June, 1933, Doherty purchased Roney's controlling interest 
in the Roney Plaza, having acquired a minority hold two years 
before. Following Roosevelt's inauguration, with Miami Beach 
real estate at its lowest point in eight years, Roney began buying 
again. He is reputed now to own one and one-half miles of ocean 
frontage in and around Miami Beach. Much of this is south of 
Golden Beach, in which he also has a large number of lots. 

Since the upturn in 1933 he has done no building, devoting 
himself to the purchase of land, but it is generally believed he is 
laying plans for an extensive building campaign in the near future. 
When he sold the Roney Plaza it was reported that he had a con- 
tract with Doherty to do no building for the following few years, 
and it is understood that this period of grace has about expired. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

. . . most magnificent estate in Florida, the gardens and mansion of Viscaya 
were built by the late James Deering, International Harvester official. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


FROM the jolt of the Seminole Beach sale early in August to the 
$33,000,000 sale of the Shoreland Company September 3, 1925, 
the Florida boom was at its very crest and thereafter soon 
turned as cold as dead love. The binder boys found they could 
not ride the boom down as they had ridden it up, and departed, 
chattering and angry, like a vast flock of starlings disturbed at 
their nesting. 

Seminole Beach was a piece of sand and underbrush compris- 
ing 115 acres along the ocean, just north of Golden Beach and the 
Broward county line. Wade Harley had owned it for several years 
but late in July, 1925, he sold it to N. B. T. Roney and James M. 
Cox of Ohio for $3,000,000. 

After the purchase, the word went quietly forth that Seminole 
Beach would be subdivided and developed, and a portion of it put 
on the market. Not a line of advertising — just a few telephone 
calls from the sales manager, George T. Browne. Seminole Beach 
was to have a hotel, casino, stores, and all the other trappings of 
a seaside resort. 

Two days later the crush in front of the Roney offices re- 
sembled a mob scene as frantic buyers demanded lots in Seminole 
Beach. In six and a half hours, Seminole Beach was sold out for 
$7,645,000, and within a week it had been resold again for 
$12,000,000. M. G. O'Neil and his associates bit off a $4,500,000 
chunk of the first sale. All of it was held by a 10 per cent deposit, 
the remainder of 15 per cent making up the first payment being 
due in 30 days. 

Unhappily, before the 30 days had elapsed, the boom teetered, 
gave out a frightened squawk and began a retreat. Seminole 
Beach today is back in the hands of the former owner, Wade Har- 
ley, and has been returned to acreage except for the location of 
Club Boheme. Every purchaser has been washed out and it is 
ready for the next boom. 

Commodore J. Perry Stoltz, who built the Fleetwood Hotel 
where the binder boys clustered at Miami Beach, was in town re- 
cently. He is a national representative of the Goball Sales Corpora- 
tion, from Ashville, Ohio. He recalled that the binder boys of 
Miami Beach were pretty sick within a week of the Seminole Beach 
sale. They had all loaded up heavily, intending to make a kill- 
ing. But while they were casting about for the most succulent 
prospects, someone absent-mindedly tossed a few odds and ends 
near the Seminole Beach tract on the market at 25 per cent less 
than they had paid for the same kind of sand — and they couldn't 
unload their binders at any kind of profit. Naturally they had 
no intention of making the first payments, either, and the resulting 
confusion, he says, was quite touching. 

But a few binder boys more or less on Miami Beach made no 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

difference at that time. We didn't even miss those who were 
caught flat-footed by the tightening of sales restrictions in the 
Fisher properties, whose sales manager began to exercise his right 
to reject prospective purchasers not conforming to his idea of sound 
investors. It didn't do a binder boy much good to take over a kited 
binder if the actual sale was rejected. But there were so many 
whole subdivisions being gobbled up elsewhere by the other binder 
boys and the regular buyers, that this small purge passed almost 
unnoticed at the time. 

Tatum Brothers and their far-flung organization by August 
had completed $40,000,000 in real estate sales since the first of the 
year. A. D. H. Fossey, Miami's present mayor, had made $1,111,- 
550 in sales in the comparatively quiet sector of Buena Vista dur 
ing July. The Curtiss-Bright developments were just getting 
started with $2,826,000 in sales in one month through Bridges 
& Sinn. The effervescent promoters of Atlantic Snores, near 
Hollywood, took solemn oath that their Dixie section had been sold 
out completely in 40 minutes for $4,000,000. 

Belle Mead was a new subdivision which opened in August on 
the bay east of Little River, and was half sold out in six hours for 
$2,729,500. This was the same tract which set a record of $15,000 
an acre when it was sold in January to Walter S. Morrow, developer 
of Federal Way, for $1,500,000. It comprised the former Ullendorf 
and Garrett holdings and had been bought from W. H. Garrett and 
the Biscayne Trust Company by Webb Jay and others for $500,000. 
Subdivision of these areas began to open the way for the later es- 
tablishment of Biscayne boulevard. 

El Retiro on Belle Isle was sold by Warren B. Ferris to a group 
of Chicago capitalists for $1,250,000, one of the largest individual 
sales on the beach. The group planned to put a hotel on the six 
acres, but it proved to be one of those late blooming developments 
that never got off the blueprints. 

In Miami the big talk then was of annexation and the election 
to be held in September. The biggest crowd ever gathered here 
met in Royal Palm park on the night of August 7 to applaud D. J. 
Heffernan as he presented speakers urging annexation. The gen- 
eral opinion expressed there was that within 10 years, Miami would 
be the largest city in the South. 

George A. Rubin was becoming so exclusive with his property 
that he called for sealed bids on 125 lots. W. J. McCarthy, known 
as the "Smiling Cop," was promoted to the auto theft bureau. Dean 
Anson Marston was brought from Iowa State Teachers College to 
study the sewage problem presented by Miami suddenly doubling 
in population and sprouting a thicket of skyscrapers to pour their 
raw waste into the bay. 

Harry J. Moyer bought the Cortez Hotel for $800,000, and it 
later turned up among the $5,000,000 worth of property owned by 
S. M. Goldberg of New York. The Morris Plan Bank opened in 
Miami with F. A. Clawson as president. Dr. David E. Sheehan, 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

pioneer Miami dentist, sold his Alhambra Hotel to a Syracuse 
syndicate for $750,000. A 50-foot lot just east of it on Second 
street was sold to Mrs. Vera Wirick for $115,000, and the fact that 
a seven-room house adorned it seemed to make no difference in its 

Gov. John W. Martin returned from speaking on Florida in 
Chicago and Poland Springs and decided to call a special session 
of the legislature in the fall to re-enact a measure forming a Mon- 
roe county water district to finance the laying of a water pipeline 
from the mainland to Key West. The bill was improperly passed 
at the regular session in the spring. More than 10 years of litiga- 
tion was started by a decision delivered by the late Federal Judge 
Rhydon M. Call when he ruled on the provision in the will of 
Richard Croker, former Tammany leader, to vest his Palm Beach 
homestead and other property in J. B. McDonald and Palm Beach 
Estates. The squabble between the widow, Bula Croker, and the 
children of Croker by a former marriage was only settled in favor 
of the widow last year. 

Nine large ships were tied up in Miami harbor trying des- 
perately to unload, with a labor shortage developing faster and 
faster. Congestion in the Jacksonville railroad yards forced the 
Seaboard to start a new freight yard at Yulee. Miami's port had 
become the largest in Florida, jumping from 206,000 tons in 1922 
to 1,105,000 in the first half of 1925. All the makings for the 
paralyzing embargo and harbor blockage soon to follow were there, 
but we were too busy to take notice — or to do anything about it. 

When real estate values on Flagler street reached $50,000 a 
front foot in the middle of August, 1925, people began to think 
perhaps they were a little steep, but they were to go still higher 
within two weeks. 

At 221-223 E. Flagler, now occupied by the Holsum Cafeteria, 
Cromer & Cassell had bought a three-story building in July on a 
valuation of $20,000 a front foot, which seemed out of all reason 
at that time. They actually let a contract for a 20-story building 
there, to cost $1,250,000, but changed their minds before the work 
started. Instead, on August 15, they announced a two-year lease 
to P. J. Davis of Golf Park on a $50,000 front-foot valuation, the 
site to be used for real estate offices in the ambitious development 
whose principal reminder today is a great deserted clubhouse 
northeast of the municipal airport. 

This same lease was split up September 1 to give H. H. Fisher 
of Fisher Brothers 21 feet of the front and all of the rear of the 
ground floor on a valuation of $70,000 a front foot. Golf Park 
retained the other 22 feet of the front for their offices. So far 
as we can tell, this was the highest valuation established during 
the 1925 boom, with the possible exception of the one-year lease 
taken on 13 feet of the Vail Arcade on Flagler street by Magid, 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

Gordon & Murray at a rental of $60,000. All of these firms, it 
goes without saying, dealt in real estate. 

Scarcely less impressive was the valuation on the former Bur- 
dine & Quarterman corner at Flagler and S. E. First avenue now 
occupied by Liggett's, which J. W. Young's Hollywood companies 
leased for two and a half years for a valuation of $2,000,000 or 
$40,000 a front foot. The three-year-old Roberts Hotel, west of 
Miami avenue on Flagler, was sold by J. C. Roberts to David Afre- 
mow and a syndicate for more than $1,000,000. Soon after, 
Crocker's Cafeteria on the ground floor of the Roberts was leased 
for one year to F. E. Sweeting of Angler's Park on Key Largo at a 
valuation of $25,000 a front foot. J. Harrison McCready took 
half of it for his Miami office of Chateau Park. 

Other flights into the upper reaches of realty were being 
made in the few unsubdivided pieces of acreage near Miami. 
James Donn of the Exotic Gardens received $375,000 for 15 acres 
bordering on Grapeland boulevard at Thirty-sixth street from the 
Long Beach Company. The plot was quickly converted into a 
subdivision. James Macfadyean, who made the sale, claims that 
for a record in Allapattah acreage. 

L. C. Richmond finally parted with 10 acres at N. W. Seven- 
teenth avenue and Thirty-third street for $218,000, bought by W, 
W. Fentress. He got it 20 years before for $105. But that was 
small potatoes compared to what happened soon after, on the 
Tamiami Trail between S. W. Twenty-third court and Twenty- 
third avenue, when R. V. Tays bought five acres at $60,000 an 
acre from George M. Okell and Frank W. Hughson. 

Faced with a shortage of 4,000 gallons of milk daily in the 
Miami area, 10 men banded together in August to get a new source 
of milk to replace the dairies being driven out of business by rock- 
eting realty values. A syndicate was formed to finance a $1,000,- 
000 dairy, fruit and truck farm, on 3,200 acres to be bought from 
the Pennsylvania Sugar Company west of Hialeah. Those joining 
the enterprise were Marcus A. Milam, James Gilman, E. B. 
Douglas, Ernest R. Graham, E. P. Fripp, Edward Anderson, John 
J. Quinn, Dr. John R. Pearson, James Donn and Fred Cason. 

Graham, who was manager of the Pennsylvania Sugar Com- 
pany, had been preaching for some time the necessity of making 
pasture for dairy cows on the muck lands of the Everglades. The 
embargo cutting off the precious imported dairy feed was to 
lend added weight to his argument a month later, but the cause 
of imported cow feed still is being upheld, 11 years later, by 
state price fixing of milk. The dairy project got off to a late 
start, but the idea was roundly applauded everywhere at the 

Over on Collins island near the Nautilus Hotel, the Fisher 
interests were poking the giant towers of radio station WIOD 
into the heavens. Rex Beach, the author, was a guest at Coral 
Gables and was preparing a book on the glories of Florida, for 
which he was paid $18,000 and whose chief merit was the artistry 


I? $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

t of its cover. James Francis Gordon, later known as J. Fritz, re- 
signed from the Commercial Bank and Trust Company to enter 

• the legal profession. 

Although congress had authorized $1,660,000 for Miami har- 
s bor work, the money would be a long time coming, and the city 
I was trying hard to find enough cash to lend the government and 
f get the work started. Carl G. Fisher wired in from Indianapolis 
' that he would put up $200,000 of it, and at first it was hailed as a 
» noble gesture until E. G. Sewell painted the Fisher offering as a 

* lure to hook Miami up with his Peninsular Terminal harbor, iso- 
\ lated in the bay. 

The SS. Mar Blanco put in at this time with 200,000 of the 
r Spanish tiles that Cyrus F. Wicker had been buying from the gul- 
' lible dons of old Spain, and Coral Gables shortly bossomed with 

red roofs. The Miami Herald began its new four-story wing to 
; house new presses and machinery, bumping right into the teeth 

of the embargo. 

Work began in exclusive Palm Beach on the new Alba Hotel, 
whose $7,000,000 worth of magnificence looks out over Lake Worth 
with the name of Ambassador Hotel today. It was put up by G. 
Maurice Heckscher, with 1,000 men working three eight-hour 
| shifts a day. Southern Bell began the herculean task of build- 
ing a $1,500,000 new headquarters around its central telephone 
exchange without interrupting service. It finally accomplished 
it, but for the next three months the frenzied customers were more 
apt to get a wrong number or no number at all, than the correct 
one. Vernon Baird, the manager, wore his voice to a whisper ex- 
! plaining to organizations why they couldn't get more telephones 
or right numbers until the new building was finished. 

Even staid Jacksonville finally succumbed to the boom and 
San Jose Estates went on the market with $850,000 in sales the 
first 10 days. Not an impressive amount, judged by south Florida 
standards, but enough. Seven miles south of Jacksonville on the 
old Dixie highway, it is still the site of beautiful homes, with a 
military academy in the once flossy hotel on the banks of the St. 
Johns river. 

Not a few of the late-blooming developments got started 
in August, only to be nipped by the financial frosts of the early 
autumn. There was Picture City, for example. Charles L. Apfel 
of Miami bought the entire town of Olympia, near Stuart in Martin 
county, and the Gomez grant of 8,000 acres to form this new town- 
site. As near as we can recall, they were going to make most of 
the movie films for the whole country there, as soon as the Hum- 
boldt current succeeded in freezing the studios out of California. 

The townsite of Indrio, north of Fort Pierce, finally opened 
as "America's Most Beautiful Home Town," with John I. Beggs, 
Milwaukee traction magnate, at the head of the financiers, and 
Charles W. Murray, former director of public service and welfare 
in Miami, in charge of the development. Indrio was slow in get- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ ? 

ting up its steam, having come out as early as the preceding Jan- 
uary and advertised itself as a "lavishly endowed town." It had 
its first sale in September, but the fact that Beggs died soon after 
put a damper on the enthusiasm of its other promoters. W. D. 
Outman of St. Petersburg, one of the leading real estate spokes- 
men of today, was its sales manager. 

. . . Carl G. Fisher, right; put Miami Beach literally on the map— Steve 
Hannagan put Miami Beach in the datelines of the nation's- newspapers. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


THE great railway freight embargo which was finally to stretch 
its paralyzing influence over every part of Florida began 
August 17, 1925, when the Florida East Coast railroad found 
itself unable to handle the volume of freight coming down the East 
Coast into Miami. 

It was taking six days to get a boxcar from Jacksonville to 
Miami, and when it arrived it couldn't be unloaded. With 820 
loaded cars waiting in the Miami yards, and 1,300 more strung 
north as far as Lemon City, the railroad stopped taking any cars 
from other railroads, and shut off incoming shipments on every- 
thing but fuel, livestock and perishables. The officials didn't think 
the shutdown would last longer than 10 days. But before the em- 
bargo was broken the boom had broken with it, while more than 
seven thousand southbound freight cars waited helplessly outside 
of Jacksonville as fall reached on into the winter of 1925. 

Work soon stopped on the Rand buildings after the em- 
bargo became effective, although most contractors in south Flor- 
ida reported enough supplies on hand to last two weeks. Ernest 
Cotton, acting city manager for Miami, began at once to use city 
trucks in unloading cars, and warehouses kept open all day Sun- 
day as business men rallied to claim their freight. 

But many found they had no place to store their freight, and 
finally some were arrested by the city before they would take 
freight out of the railroad warehouses or off "spotted" cars. An 
acute labor shortage had developed also, and that, combined with 

lack of warehouse space, was the 
principal contributing cause of 
the congestion: Soon there was 
so much confusion that shippers 
willing to get their consign- 
ments were unable to locate them 
among the hundreds of cars 
jammed into every inch of avail- 
able trackage around Miami. 

While building slowed down, 
Miami was faced with a new 
menace — lack of ice. The city 
began importing 250 tons a day 
from Sanford, and before long ice 
was being rationed out at 25 
pounds to the family, like sugar 
in war days. Dr. A. W. Ziebold, 
city health officer, ordered the 
ice companies here to quit selling 
to fountains and cold drink 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

stands. Those were the days, you may recall, before mechanical 
refrigeration was common in house or store. 

But although builders faced the immediate future with trepi- 
dation, not so the subdivisionists. Foremost among the new de- 
velopments was Golden Isles, the last of the tracts along the up- 
per beach except the Isle of Normandy and the Miami Shores is- 
land to get into the boom. 

Golden Isles comprised 826 acres of partly submerged land 
stretching along the East Coast canal from the Hallandale road to 
the head of Dumfoundling bay, lying just west of Golden Beach 
and Seminole Beach. It was bought for $1,200,000, and comprised 
a part of the extensive holdings of Olaf Zetterland, the former en- 
gineer who sold Atlantic Shores its site. 

S. A. Kagey was president; C. M. Van Tassell, vice president, 
and Vance W. Helm, sales agent for Golden Beach, was secre- 
tary-treasurer. Other directors in the enterprise were Frank H. 
Wharton, Miami city manager; Arthur G. Keene, W. M. William- 
son and E. E. Rorem. All were prominent in other land develop- 
ments at the time. 

The idea was to fill in 10 islands and make of Golden Isles 
a modern Venice, with nearly every home on its own palm-bordered 
water front. By the middle of September $5,000,000 worth of lots 
had been sold as dredges moved in to make the islands. Just 
across the way was Golden Beach and the blue Atlantic, forming 
a view that would have opened the purses of untold investors, had 
not the boom collapsed before even a house could be built to shelter 
the viewers. 

Late in August, George E. Merrick rounded out his new Bilt- 
more section by paying $2,500,000 for the famous Le Jeune grove 
of 160 acres in the eastern part of Coral Gables. Charles Le Jeune, 
a Belgian, bought the land in 1900 from Dr. Charles Jackson and 
made it into a very popular citrus grove. His home stood across 
the street from the San Sebastian Hotel, and his name today dig- 
nifies one of the important streets of Coral Gables. When this 
new Merrick section was put on the market, $5,555,850 in sales 
were recorded in 24 hours. 

The little town of Davie was having quite a boom as the "Gem 
of the Everglades." The somewhat notorious subdivision of Del 
Verde near Charlotte Harbor was selling 18,000 lots at $99 each 
on the promise by John L. Rossel, the president, that 40 per cent 
of the proceeds was to be held in trust to build the actual townsite. 
The price later went up to $149 a lot, before Miami buyers got sur- 
feited with it. Even Poinciana, far down on the western shore of 
the Gulf of Mexico and accessible only by boat, could be adver- 
tised as "the coming Miami on the Gulf" without a discernible 
blush from the promoters. Fellsmere Estates was reported over- 
sold in five minutes by Louis Gold. 

Alton Port was started by Jerome Cherbino as a passenger 
ship terminal at Miami Beach on a former Allison tract and reach- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

ing from the end of the causeway through the Gulf Refining Com- 
pany property almost to the government cut. As it appeared that 
Carl Fisher would not be able to bridge the channel and get ac- 
cess to Terminal island, Cherbino bought 400 feet along the water's 
edge for $1,000,000, 30 times what James A. Allison paid for it 
six years before. A ship channel 20 feet deep was assured, for 
the convenience of ocean liners desiring to unload passengers on 
Miami Beach. 

Elser Pier and the 30-year-old 124th Infantry national guard 
armory on the new Miami bayfront fill finally were being torn 
down, after Blue Steele and his New Orleans Nite Hawks had 
completed an engagement in the Japanese ballroom of the pier. The 
Tallman hospital was started as a $1,000,000 piece of construction 
in Coral Gables. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, opened its 
$250,000 place of worship on N. E. Nineteenth street. The $800,000 
Alcazar Hotel on the bayfront added its part to Miami's skyline. 

The new Venetian causeway was relucantly offered to the 
county for $2,000,000 by J. F. Chaille and F. C. B. LeGro, but it 
was discovered that the county had reached its bonding limit, and 
couldn't buy, so the causeway continued on a toll basis. 

As September, 1925, opened, the voters of Miami marched to 
the polls and approved the expansion of the city limits to include 
the adjoining towns of Silver Bluff, Coconut Grove, Little River, 
Lemon City, Allapattah and Buena Vista, after an extensive cam- 
paign in which the town councils of Coconut Grove and Silver 
Bluff seemed the only opposition. The Committee of 400 was 
given credit for the victory, with A. J. Cleary as its chairman, but 
the size of the majority — 2,908 to 308 — indicated the well estab- 
lished public demand for a larger Miami. The new area was 50 
square miles instead of 13. 

Gov. John W. Martin had arrived in Miami with Treasurer 
John C. Luning and Attorney General Rivers Buford, to be feted 
and dined by the city's leading men for the success of his drive to 
start road-building and the changes made in state laws which 
encouraged business and capital. 

While here he got first tidings of the celebrated Marco island 
dispute, in which a number of angry and armed squatters defied 
Barron G. Collier to take possession of the island which he had 
bought and intended to develop. 

Later, after extensive hearings in Tallahassee, the Marco is- 
land case was settled abruptly by a brief note from President 
Coolidge, advising that the land never had been opened to home- 
stead by the United States government and therefore couldn't be 
claimed by the squatters, many of whom had lived there nearly 
20 years. 

With checks and cash being carried away in barrels, the Shore- 
land Company put on a $33,000,000 sale September 3 that tempo- 
rarily reassured the doubtful, and at least took the minds of Miami- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

ans from their troubles with rent gougers, the railroad embargo and 
the anvil chorus in other states. Only the fact that the dirigible 
Shenandoah broke in two and was demolished in a storm over the 
hills of Caldwell, Ohio, that same day prevented the sales news 
from getting a better spread. 

The Shoreland Company put the 400-acre Arch Creek sec- 
tion of Miami Shores on the market before the sand pumped in on 
it had well settled. The doors of the Flagler street offices opened 
at 8:30 o'clock on the morning of the sale and closed at 11 o'clock 
when no more property was left. There, and in the field offices, 
the rioting customers literally threw $33,734,350 in money and 
checks at the sales force, 75 per cent of the buyers leaving it to 
the company to pick their lots. The Shoreland Company offices 
remained closed for five days to catch up with their bookkeeping 
and found that the offering had been oversubscribed more than 

But while all was joy and happiness in the great subdivision, 
confusion and congestion and cursing marked Miami harbor, as 
shipping lines joined the railroad in declaring an embargo on 
freight into Miami. Dockmen struck for more wages than the 45 
cents an hour they got, pointing to a wage of 60 cents in New York. 
Eighteen vessels tried vainly to edge up into the small docking 
space Miami then afforded, while long lines of trucks waited all 
day in the hot sun and far into the night to get their goods out of 
the holds. 

E. R. McKenna of the Piggly Wiggly shipping department 
said merchants laid the blame for the deadlock on the steamship 
lines for not having enough labor to empty the ships quickly, while 
the officials of the lines cried in unison for more terminal facilities, 
more docks, more of anything to which an ocean steamer might be 
tied while unloading. 

A milk shortage was next to develop, and cows of south Flor- 
ida dairies once faced starvation because ships loaded with cow 
feed from abroad couldn't get in to deliver it to the dairies. The 
further fact that shipments of new bottles were locked up by the 
embargo prevented some dairies from making deliveries even when 
they had plenty of milk. 

All steamship lines running to Miami from New York, Balti- 
more or Philadelphia were enforcing an embargo on furniture, 
machinery and building materials by September 12, and about the 
only shipments that had a free track were food and newsprint. 
Mason L. Weems Williams of the Baltimore and Carolina line was 
the last to join the shipping embargo. His line the month before 
had added six ships to the seven already running into Miami and 
he hated to think of them gathering rust. 

Finally the city of Miami took more direct action when it ap- 
peared that the situation at the water front was getting badly out 
of hand. Sixty men were transferred from the parks division and 
joined with a squad of 25 prisoners who marched to the docks and 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

in one day unloaded the Clyde liner Chippewa, which had actually 
been in Miami harbor 21 days, waiting for a chance to get up to 
a pier. 

Meantime the Fred F. French Company chartered the steam- 
ship Glendola to transport materials badly needed for the new 
Everglades Hotel and various buildings they had part way up. 
Other builders were not long in joining this movement to charter 
vessels, and before many weeks, every ancient steamer and wind- 
jammer on both sides of the United States was being hauled out 
of the mud and put in shape for a run to Miami with lumber and 
hardware and steel. About the only material present in abun- 
dance was cement, thanks to the arrival of three ships from Sweden 
with 200,000 sacks. 

The American Express Company finally declared an embargo 
on shipments of more than 200 pounds, and later had to begin 
issuing permits to prevent shippers from evading the rule by divid- 
ing larger orders into 200-pound lots. While the city was threat- 
ening arrest of shippers who refused to claim freight, the news- 
papers were publishing long lists of names of consignees. The 
railroad proposed to begin selling shipments not promptly claimed, 
as the city of Miami hurriedly threw up temporary shelters on its 
own land into which freight could be moved. 

As a result of these and other activities of civic and business 
organizations, there was some promise of the embargo lifting by 
the latter part of September. Things were rosy-hued indeed one 
day when 109 empty cars were turned back north, and only 92 
loaded ones arrived. The chamber of commerce resumed its drive 
against rent gougers, and a Better Business Bureau got pledges of 
$25,000 to whip an organization into shape to weed the wolves 
from the sheep along Flagler street. 

Flagler Heights was offered by John A. Campbell out along 
Red road, and $2,000,000 in lots were "snapped up" the first day. 
A. D. H. Fossey sold the northwest corner of North Miami avenue 
and Thirty-sixth street for $200,000, the same vacant corner which 
today offers occasional sanctuary for itinerant carrousels. 

A 50-foot lot opposite the El Comodoro Hotel on S. W. Second 
avenue and First street changed hands three times in two days, 
the last price being $165,000. C. C. Katleman of Omaha bought 
the Dennis apartments on the southeast corner of North Miami 
avenue and Fifth street for $500,000, from the United Cigar Stores 
subsidiary. The opposite corner across the avenue was sold to the 
Vaughan Investment Company for $675,000. 

The big wedding of September in Miami was that of Herbert 
O. Vance of the McDonald Lumber Company to Emily Murray, 
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Murray, which was followed 
by a honeymoon trip through Europe. James E. Calkins, long-time 
leader in the state senate from Fernandina, resigned as counsel for 
the state railroad commission and came to Miami to form a new 
law firm with John P. Stokes. Senator Calkins was succeeded on 
the railroad commission staff by Fred H. Davis, then a struggling 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

young lawyer of Tallahassee, who rose in the subsequent 10 years 
to be chief justice of the Florida Supreme court. 

Dan Chappell called a meeting in Hialeah which resulted in 
the incorporation of that community September 10. G. Carl Adams 
of the Hialeah Civic club, which was formed to promote incorpo- 
ration, was in the presiding chair. Paul Latham resigned as deputy 
sheriff to be the first chief of police in Hialeah, and Chappell was 
made the first city attorney. 

Joy R. Cark had become slightly weary of promoting Atlantic 
Shores and was made president of Tampa Beach, Inc., during the 
summer. He returned to Miami only briefly in September to dazzle 
his former associates with the magnitude of his new undertaking, 
4,000 acres in Hillsborough bay on which he proposed to spend 
$100,000,000. Such Ohio figures as Gruen, the watch manufac- 
turer, Patterson of National Cash Register, and Mannington of the 
famous Harding front porch campaign were putting up the money. 

It may seem ridiculous now, but the statement was very calm- 
ly received that Tampa Beach as a beach would be made on a 
proposed chain of islands to be dredged out of the bay. This was 
not out of line with his policy, however, in announcing several 
months before that he had paid $750,000 for Cat Cay, principally 
to get 30,000 coconut trees to beautify Atlantic Shores. 

Anyway, a reported cash price of $4,500,000 was paid for the 
land in and along East Hillsborough bay. Under the direction of 
Adolph Goodwin, full page advertisements were run in nearly every 
state paper, and a 45-page special edition was printed in The 
Tampa Tribune on the momentous day when the long bridge and 
causeway connecting the development to Tampa was opened with 
an impressive civic ceremony. The bridge and a night club occu- 
pying the former administration building are the only evidence 
that the naked eye can pick up today to identify Tampa Beach. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


ANEW kind of bootlegging appeared in south Florida as the 
sweaty month of September, 1925, drew to a close. When 
dealers were forced by the freight embargo to ration out the 
remaining lumber, and all building was threatened with a shut- 
down, men conspired in the dead of night for a few planks or 
beams, just enough to tide them over a tight spot so they could 
throw a house together somehow and get it on the market. 

The freight embargo grew steadily worse. The lumber deal- 
ers organized at the J. A. McDonald Lumber Company plant, late 
in September, and prepared to allot each firm a certain percentage 
of all the wood that could be got into Dade county. Guy Stoms 
presided and declared that not more than 5 per cent of the normal 
supply was on hand in the various yards. Thirty thousand men em- 
ployed in the building trades here were facing idleness. 

Many a contractor's truck began moving about at night to 
pick up a load of lumber here or there. Houses became so flimsy 
that even a strong wind would have knocked many of them to the 
ground, and it was no wonder the hurricane of 1926 took such a 
toll. The demand for shelter was so great that tent cities had 
sprung up in Miami, in Hollywood and Sanford and elsewhere, 
for that was the day before the house car and the tourist camp 
had come into such general favor. The Miami Chamber of Com- 
merce promoted the importation of 100 portable houses to rent at 
$60 a month. 

The Florida East Coast railroad finally was forced to declare 
a full embargo on dead freight. Thousands of people with freight 
in the warehouses wouldn't call for it. The railroad refused to 
build more warehouses, claiming it could not go into that business, 
and the city of Miami finally began to put up a warehouse near 
N. W. Thirty-sixth street. Eager to lay the blame elsewhere, cit- 
izens even declared the embargo was brought on by the Florida 
East Coast insistence upon building the double track between 
Miami and Jacksonville. Two thousand passengers daily were be- 
ing brought into Miami on this one railroad. 

But despite the embargo, the great real estate movement still 
was going at near top speed. The Biscayne Hotel at the corner 
of Flagler street and Miami avenue was sold by the United Cigar 
Stores subsidiary to Hugh M. Anderson and Roy C. Wright for 
$1,500,000, as their own private speculation. In a year since N. 
B. T. Roney turned it loose, the corner had increased in value 

Burdine & Quarterman prepared to vacate their Flagler street 
corner for the Hollywood corporation, and bought the property 
where their building was subsequently constructed on N. E. Ninth 
street, for $525,000. Voters in the north part of the county ap- 
proved a bond issue for the Seventy-ninth street causeway, and the 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

fact that it was to be built paved the way for opening the Isle of 
Normandy, on the beach end of this causeway, as the last ocean- 
side development of this particular boom. 

Fairisle is a little island opposite the Deering estate in the 
lower bay which was subdivided in September. Sales amounting 
to $1,558,330 were allegedly made in four hours when this island, 
almost forgotten today, was thrown on the market. 

There was so much noise from air drills and riveters that few 
noticed the barrage of shots which burst forth from the Dade 
county courthouse on the morning of September 27, but when the 
smoke drifted away, two county prisoners lay dead and a jail break 
led by the notorious Heywood Register of the Ashley gang had 
failed. Sheriff Henry Chase and a number of deputies and city 
policemen had watched for the attempted escape from the win- 
dows of the old courthouse, opposite the county jail, fearing that 
the break from the inside would be covered outside by the sharp- 
shooting Joe Tracey, another of the Ashley gang survivors who had 
escaped from a state road camp and was known to be in Miami. 

Register played possum and was not injured. Sheriff Chase 
was indicted for second degree murder, along with seven deputies 
and six Miami policemen who had joined in the fusillade, and E. B. 
Leatherman, chief deputy in the Circuit court clerk's office, was ap- 
pointed elisor by Gov. John W. Martin to carry out the duties of 
sheriff until Chase could be tried. 

Much of the animosity which was generated later in Dade 
county against Martin dates from his refusal to remove Chase from 
the sheriff's office at this time. Certain gambling interests on 
Miami Beach had tried to run a race track wire in for bookmaking 
and had been prevented by Chase. The gamblers recruited polit- 
ical help to force Chase out, but Governor Martin refused to give 
ground before their editorial and personal attacks. Chase was 
tried in December and acquitted, along with the deputies and the 

Political fires were burning at Miami Beach also. Chief of 
Police C. E. Brogden finally resigned after a request from the 
Miami Beach council, and started to run a bus line. His place was 
taken by Damon Lewis of Oklahoma, whose tenure of office was 
disturbed abruptly in December when he was indicted in Kansas 
City for smuggling narcotics, and was sentenced to seven years in 
Leavenworth. Claude A. Renshaw, former mayor of Roundup, 
Mont., came in as city manager and has been given credit for much 
of that city's subsequent sound financial position. 

James Deering died on the way back from Europe, and Viz- 
caya, the estate on which he had lavished more than $8,000,000 to 
make it the prize beauty spot of the United States, was without 
a master. The former vice president of International Harvester 
willed $500,000 to Jackson Memorial hospital to build a charity 
ward as his final contribution to the community. 

South Miami avenue was torn up briefly as three shifts of 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

workmen laid the tracks for the Coral Gables rapid transit line at 
the rate of a block a day. The old Security Hotel was torn down 
to make way for the new 15-story home of the Dade County Security 
Company, across from the federal building. The four-story Plaza 
Hotel on the bay front was sold for $1,000,000 by Millard and Lee 
Chase, who had been there with their mother since 1909. The 
buyers were Tatum Brothers and Forrest L. Haines. 

Although it was estimated Miami would add 8,428 new houses, 
8,065 apartments and 8,262 hotel rooms from May to December, the 
rent gouger still was in the saddle as the time for a new tourist 
season drew on. The First National Bank for some time had oper- 
ated apartments for its employes. The Miami Herald bought two 
whole apartment buildings and started 50 houses in Hialeah for its 
newcomers. Burdine's built three apartment buildings; the Com- 
mercial Bank & Trust Company, Sutton & Gibson, the jewelers; 
Groover-Stewart, the druggists ; and even the city of Miami Beach 
went into the housing business to retain employes. 

By this time Miami and its suburbs began to feel like a country 
girl wearing her first corset. Land owners feared that 1,000,000 
people soon would be overflowing south Florida, and consequently 
the co-operative apartment idea found ready ears. The first one 
was planned for Coral Gables, to be called the San Juan, where 
you would own a portion of space into which an apartment would 
be fitted. 

To give you an idea of how things were going, the recorded 
real estate sales in Dade county for July were $24,000,000, for 
August they leaped to $141,000,000 and in September they were 
$96,674,000. We note these sales for Dade county only, because 
it was the storm center of the boom, and the values represented 
tnere have no purpose at this late date except to afford a com- 
parison of the number of lots that were being absorbed by eager 
ouyers. That Dade county again has some sort of boom is evi- 
denced by more than $50,000,000 in real estate transfers recorded 
during 1935. 

Late in September one began to hear doubts about the 
Florida boom. "Can it last?" the starry-eyed neophytes asked the 
hardened real estate salesmen. But none was so foolish in this part 
of Florida at least as to admit openly that Florida was enjoying any- 
thing but a healthy, normal growth. Had anyone in September de- 
clared in the full hearing of others on Flagler street that he thought 
the boom was nearly over, he would have been rushed to the old 
stone jail and locked up as hopelessly insane. 

Seven Ohio banks pooled their resources in September, 1925, 
to shoot out an advertising blast against Florida that echoed all 
over the Middle West and brought yelps of surprised pain from the 
Florida press and civic bodies. 

The embattled bankers, seeing hundreds of millions of dollars 
leaving the banks of the North for Florida, put this puzzler to their 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

Florida-bound customers: "You are going to Florida to do what? 
To sell lots to the other fellow who is going to Florida to sell lots to 
you. That is about all you can do in Florida unless you want to 

But that was only one of the slings and arrows of outraged for- 
tune. The Scripps-Howard chain of newspapers in September 
printed a series of articles from the facile pen of Harold Keats, 
which stated quite baldly that the boom was over in Florida, that 
all the profits had been made, that the binder boys had been run 
out and that Santa Claus was dead. So damaging was this coast-to- 
coast indictment that Herman A. Dann, president of the Florida 
Development Board, asked Gov. John W. Martin to call a meeting 
of leading Florida men in New York October 9 to meet the prin- 
cipal magazine and newspaper publishers and see what could be 
done to get the "truth" printed. 

The anvil chorus clanged mightily throughout the South dur- 
ing September. Richmond citizens called for a special legislative 
session to devise ways to counteract the damage done to Virginia 
by the wholesale migration to Florida. "Florida is a regular mad- 
house," shrieked headlines in South Carolina. "Two months too 
late to make a profit in Florida," advised a Kentucky newspaper. 
"Florida is lacking in anything but money," we learned from an 
up-country paper, which declared there was a food shortage in 
Miami and no place for thousands to sleep. 

Even our friend, The Asheville (N. C.) Citizen, suggested the 
advisability of martial law in Miami, as disappointed returning 
investors contended rent profiteers made it impossible for anyone 
less than a millionaire to get a night's lodging. 

"Ridiculous," snorted the Florida journals in unison. The 
Clearwater Chamber of Commerce prepared to sue the Scripps- 
Howard newspapers for malicious misrepresentation. Someone 
in Miami suggested the creation of the state post of "fib-buster" to 
run down the stories about Florida and brand them. His name 
would have had to be legion. Only Felix Isman in the conservative 
Saturday Evening Post was gravely declaring there was no boom 
in Florida. We forget what his term for it was. Mercer P. Mose- 
ley wrote an epic essay entitled "The Florida Dollar" which gained 
much favorable attention in Northern financial journals, but it cir- 
culated mostly among those too busy with the rising stock market 
at that time to pay full attention to Florida. 

On October 9, 1925, in one of the large dining halls of the 
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, the leaders of Florida thought 
and action held a conference with most of the New York publish- 
ers^ — Scripps-Howard excepted. This writer, in reporting the event, 
began as follows : 

"Florida today made her appeal for truth in advertising in the 
very heart of the nation's publishing center, an appeal designed to 
still the propaganda that is being circulated to the detriment of 
the state." 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

Ringing the banquet table, elbow to elbow with the publishers 
of the greatest newspapers and magazines in America, were Gov- 
ernor Martin, Herman Dann of St. Petersburg, G. G. Ware, Lees- 
burg banker; Joe H. Scales, Perry banker and state senator; David 
Sholtz, Daytona Beach banker; I. E. Schilling, William N. Urmey, 
Frank B. Shutts, George Merrick and N. B. T. Roney of the Greater 
Miami area; Joseph W. Young of Hollywood; C. C. Carr of St. 
Petersburg; Harvey Hill of Jacksonville ; S. Davies Warfield, presi- 
dent of the Seaboard Air Line railroad; George Sebring of Sebring; 
Paris Singer of Palm Beach ; Calvin Fentress of Jacksonville ; Bar- 
ron Collier, builder of a young empire in Collier county; John H. 
Perry, the Jacksonville publisher; Frank Parker Stockbridge, Au- 
gust Heckscher, H. H. Raymond, president of the Clyde line, and 
Senator T. Coleman duPont. 

Splendid, convincing speeches were made by Governor Mar- 
tin, by Herman Dann and Barron G. Collier and many others. They 
w T ere answered in kind by the publishers, none of whom, in the final 
analysis, seemed to hold any grudge against Florida. They de- 
clared they had printed the horrible details, real and imaginary, 
which their writers had brought back from the boom as being 
infinitely more interesting to their readers than the kind of soothing 
syrup the promoters and the publicity men of the boom were ped- 
dling. When it was over, everyone felt better and the Floridians 
went home hoping that what they halfway feared was not yet upon 
them, namely a real estate slump such as the stock market period- 
ically experienced. Virtually no one of that Florida delegation 
would have dreamed the boom in Florida would be as dead as a 
salted mackerel three months later. 

Following this meeting, the real estate men in Miami began 
getting together $20,000, to be used specifically to fight back at 
the critics, who continued worrying Florida like a pack of dogs 
around a tiring bear. We were to learn that the fires of publicity 
lighted by the Miami Chamber of Commerce since 1915 were not 
so easy to extinguish. 

In those early days the Miami Chamber of Commerce under 
E. G. Sewell raised a good share of the advertising budget and di- 
rected its spending with considerably more imagination and re- 
sults than those of today, who simply tread around and around in 
the "girly" pattern first laid out by Steve Hannagan. In 1915 the 
Miami chamber raised $2,500 by popular subscription for the first 
city advertising fund, and even as late as 1924 it was producing, by 
popular subscription, half of a $172,000 yearly advertising budget 
at the insistence of Sewell. 

There is little doubt that the attention of the nation first was 
drawn to Miami by this persistent advertising, but, once focused 
on Florida, the nation by late 1925 was somewhat cockeyed from 
trying to follow the kaleidoscopic whirl that looked from a distance 
not unlike a parade of pink elephants and green monkeys. 

In Florida the parade still was going strong, although October 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

saw a definite slacking of sales. The Isle of Normandy on upper 
Miami Beach was sold out in three hours for $6,125,000, as it 
stretched its arms to receive the new Seventy-ninth street cause- 
way from upper Miami. Largest one sale of the month was the 
muchly litigated Central Park, at Flagler street and Grapeland 
boulevard, for $1,000,000 to the Knickerbocker Realty Corporation. 

D. L. Hartman, the strawberry king, w r as holding grimly to his 
26 acres of fine land just north of Seventy-ninth street and west of 
Biscayne boulevard, having rejected one offer of $1,000,000 for it. 
He had taken $91,500 off that land from strawberry crops in four 
years and he wanted to make just one more crop before retiring. 
But during the latter part of October Hartman finally sold the 
"strawberry patch" to a corporation headed by Gradon Thomas 
for $1,000,000, to be subdivided as soon as the crop was picked. 
The lateness of that crop saved good strawberry land from being 
converted into a poor subdivision, because by the time he was ready 
to deliver it was not worth a million to the subdividers. 

Dr. Everett S. Smith came down in October from Hopkinsville, 
Ky., to begin his pastorate at the First Christian Church in Miami. 
Paul B. Wilson of Long Beach, Calif., became assistant city man- 
ager of Miami. Mr. and Mrs. Charles A. Mills reported they had 
counted 840 automobiles bearing 2,500 people down the Dixie 
highway toward Miami in a 10-hour stretch of driving north. Henry 
Vander Lei, a landlord of Miami, became a brief sensation when 
he made public a promise that he would not raise the rents on his 
tenants the following season, believing in the adage, "Live and 
let live." 

After prolonged research, it has been discovered that the oft- 
repeated quotation, "Your skyline reminds me of New York," origi- 
nated September 27, with Arthur J. Bauer, New York druggist, and 
Adrian G. Hanover, New York real estate man. Their exact words 
were, "The skyline of Miami compares only with the skyline of 
lower New York." 

Thereafter for nearly a year incoming new visitors would be 
asked by reporters, "Doesn't Miami's skyline remind you of New 
York?" If anyone answered in the negative, it didn't count. The 
query served chiefly to call attention to the physically new and 
stately Miami, and to cover up from January, 1926, to the time of 
the hurricane any embarassing comment about what had become 
of the boom. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


A BITTER quarrel over development of the Miami harbor was 
going full blast by the first of November, after John B. 
Orr and the Miami planning board had submitted the so- 
called Orr plan for creating a long island from Miami to the Fisher 
docks, from the spoil to be dug out of the ship channel with the 
new federal appropriation. 

The Orr plan resulted in the pine-clad clumps of land lying 
south of the ship channel today and harboring little but refuse and 
human derelicts. But as planned by Col. F. W. Allstaetter of Sa- 
vannah and submitted through Orr, these islands would have been 
mantled with warehouses, surrounded by a 200-foot channel, and 
linked with Fisher's development on Peninsula island. A railroad 
would have run virtually from the ocean to the Miami docks and 
the harbor would have been full of shipping. The plan was 
adopted by the cities of Miami and Miami Beach, but opposed so 
strenuously by E. G. Sewell as president of the chamber of com- 
merce, that The Herald had to quit taking all advertisements of a 
controversial nature relating to the harbor. 

Finally in December the directors of the Miami Chamber of 
Commerce delivered the unexpected blow of indorsing the Orr 
plan unanimously, and Sewell resigned with the parting warning 
that the net result would be only a disfigurement of the bay. How 
true his prediction was is evident to all who care to look. 

But with the Orr plan adopted, Miami quickly swung into 
action, got the special session of the legislature to pass the bay 
bottom bill giving Miami title to all the bay from the causeway 
power plant to a point opposite the mouth of the Miami river, and 
began sending $500,000 to Lieut. Col. Gilbert A. Youngberg in 
Jacksonville, as a loan to the war department, to start the 25-foot 

To relieve the immediate shipping congestion, at the sugges- 
tion of C. D. Leffler, the city dredged out a channel along the new 
Bayfront park and soon this was lined with the schooners bringing 
lumber and building materials into Miami. The Clyde Line brought 
150 longshoremen from New York to speed the unloading of ships, 
as the freight situation got worse instead of better. 

After three weeks of the embargo, the city of Miami decided 
something drastic had to be done, so Thomas E. Grady, rate and 
traffic expert from Savannah, was appointed to lead the way out 
of the wilderness, with a drawing account of $5,000 the first 
month. After a meeting with 15 leading citizens and George W. 
Berry, interstate commerce commission agent sent here as an ad- 
viser, Grady picked W. A. Snow, Lou Crandell, Norman W. Graves, 
B. R. Hunter and Arthur A. Ungar to help him break up the 

The advent of the great citrus crop and a strike of 1,800 teleg- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

raphers on the Atlantic Coast Line soon resulted in the embargo 
spreading to all Florida south of Jacksonville. Perishables and hu- 
mans only moved over the rails of Florida. This embargo included 
road materials and was a staggering blow to the highway construc- 
tion program which the state had under way. 

A classic of that period was the story of the ingenious Miami 
contractor who had a carload of building bricks sent out of a 
Northern city billed as lettuce. The car was carefully iced all the 
way down, but when the trick was discovered in the Miami yards, 
there was a general discharging of all hands involved, and no more 
iced bricks came through. 

Late in October, the SS. H. F. Alexander, pride of the Admiral 
Line, came to anchor on the edge of the Gulf Stream, opposite Miami 
Beach after its first 48-hour run from New York, with 421 passen- 
gers aboard. The vessel was too big to come up the channel, so the 
lighter Shinnecock took off passengers and freight and unloaded 
them on the causeway docks, in the new Admiral Line offices, near 
where Don Dickerman's pirate crew held forth. On the heels 
of this voyage came the announcement from New York that an 
even larger boat, the Kroonland, would enter the Miami service 
in December. The Clyde Line chartered the Dorothy Alexander to 
replace the burned Comanche, and began building two new Miami 
boats with a $2,250,000 loan from the United States Shipping Board. 

The co-operative apartment was the rage in New York then. 
Feeling that land on Miami Beach would soon be as scarce as on 
Park avenue, Carl Fisher and several associates planned the $8,- 
000,000 Villa Biscayne as a co-operative apartment on Fisher land 
south of La Gorce island. The prospects indicated it would dwarf 
anything south of Baltimore. As near as we recollect, Mark H. 
German signed up for the first apartment, at $68,000, but the buy- 
ers were too few after the first of the year even to suggest start- 
ing the building. 

Meanwhile the near-by Miami Shores island — today the Indian 
Creek Golf club island — had been filled in by the Shoreland Com- 
pany and the lots around the golf course were sold the first day 
for $6,474,000. This was the next to the last big lot sale of the 
boom, and the last, we believe, at Miami Beach. 

The Miami real estate dealers had done a fine job of stable- 
locking by November. The binder period was shortened from 30 
to 10 days, and other safeguards against the return of the binder 
boys were taken. The Gralyn Hotel was leased by H. H. Mace to 
Harry Shapiro of New Jersey on a $2,500,000 valuation. Peacock 
Inn, the oldest hostelry in Dade county, dating from 1883 and the 
hospitality of Charles Peacock, was torn down at Coconut Grove 
to give space to some newer building. 

Harry Kelsey unloaded his holdings at Kelsey City and Palm 
Beach harbor in October for $30,000,000 to a group headed by Col. 
Henry D. Lindsley, first national commander of the American 
Legion. Kelsey had come to Palm Beach county from Boston in 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

1918, bought 100,000 acres amid the horrified protests of his friends 
and founded thereon a city. Adjacent thereto was Palm Beach 
Ocean and other holdings of Paris Singer, who even then was toying 
with the idea of running a tunnel under the Lake Worth inlet which 
separated Palm Beach Ocean from the Gold Coast of Palm Beach. 

Kelsey bought the East Coast canal from the Rhode Island 
Hospital Trust Company a month later, for a price reported then 
at $25,000,000 but which must have been much less. The legisla- 
ture several years later created the Florida Inland Navigation Dis- 
trict which bought the canal from Kelsey for around $600,000, al- 
though most state officials believed the state really owned it. 

The canal was started 25 years before by the Coast Line Canal 
and Navigation Company, on a contract with the state by which the 
company was to get about 3,000 acres of land for every mile of 
canal built. Presumably having built 380 miles from Jackson- 
ville to upper Biscayne bay, the company took more than 1,000,000 
acres of Florida land, and ducked under the hospital trust to avoid 
future difficulties. The state knew that it had not received a full 
depth canal, but it would have been politically unwise to start suit 
against a hospital for the return of the land. 

In Jacksonville during October, an elevator in the Mason Ho- 
tel dropped nine floors and carried the elderly United States Sen- 
ator Duncan U. Fletcher with it. In the car also were Congress- 
man R. A. Green and First Assistant Postmaster General John R. 
Bartlett, and several Jacksonville men, all of whom had been hav- 
ing lunch with Mayor John T. Alsop. They suffered a bad shaking 
up but no broken bones. This was only one of a series of accidents 
which the senator has survived in the last decade, to the utter as- 
tonishment of friends and enemies alike. 

The silvery voice of Rachel Jane Hamilton singing "Carry Me 
Back to Old Virginny" opened the winter tourist season in the 
green bandshall of Royal Palm park for the last time in December 
of 1925. Arthur Pryor's band poured forth notes as sweet as ever, 
but nearly every other note in Florida was turning sour. 

The stock market was recovering a little as business stopped 
for the holidays, but it had taken a skid in November, following a 
hike on rediscount rates by Federal Reserve banks that pulled 
the punches of many a Florida operator. This joined with the un- 
deniable fact of the freight embargo on Florida to cause financial 
houses elsewhere to begin withholding loans, bringing the headlong 
flight of the Florida boom to a grinding pause. 

Another signal that sales were not so easy came from V. Earl 
Irons of Irons Manor, who offered to finance the construction of 
a $15,000 house in his subdivision for as little as $3,000, to buy the 
lot. When they began making concessions to the customers, you 
knew sales were off. Joe Mitchell Chappie succeeded the late Wil- 
liam Jennings Bryan as head spellbinder at Coral Gables, and al- 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

though he exceeded the Great Commoner in volume of noise, he 
lacked the oratorical magic. 

The Miami Chamber of Commerce was greatly disappointed 
when its building back of the First Trust brought only $165,000 at 
auction from Baker-Riddle Company. The chamber had plans for 
a 10-story structure which was to be placed on a lot across S. E. 
Second street from the Alhambra Hotel, for which land $350,000 
was to be paid. 

Over on south beach, G. R. K. Carter was starting his million 
dollar pier out over the ocean near Smith's casino. Miami Shores 
drove the first pilings in November for the proposed causeway 
from the end of Grand Concourse to the ocean. Most of the con- 
crete pilings assembled for that work have been lying around ever 
since. Mrs. Sue D. Kauz started the 10-story hotel on N. W. Sec- 
ond street, whose unfinished frame with the somewhat mocking 
name of Kamp Kum-N-Go has stood for 10 years as one of the 
derelicts of the boom. 

Among notable visitors come to see what was going on that 
winter was Halsted L. Ritter, real estate and corporation lawyer 
of Denver, Colo. W. R. Asher finally was turned out of the Dade 
county jail after 22 months' imprisonment, when the Supreme 
court held insufficient the evidence on which he had been convicted 
of killing R. D. Niles, taxi driver. Hamilton Michelsen Company in- 
augurated the use of motor trucks for hauling its packed citrus 
fruit to Northern markets at the holiday season, when the embargo 
stubbornly refused to yield. 

The Florida legislature held a short session late in November 
to give Key West the legal right to lay a fresh water pipeline down 
the keys from the mainland, over the Florida East Coast right of 
way. But while that bill was being rounded out, 400 local bills 
changing city charters and rearranging the legal scenery for the 
boom were rushed through. The senate upheld Governor Martin's 
removal of Judge H. B. Philips from the state road department, 
and made provision to spend $600,000 on a state penitentiary and 
the road department building. 

The aged Albert W. Gilchrist, beloved Florida governor of 
older days, was finally located alone and ill in the New York Hos- 
pital for Crippled Children when a legislative group sent word they 
had named a new county in his honor. Okeechobee City began a 
move to have the state capital moved there from Tallahassee, in 
recognition of the shifting center of activity southward. 

Will H. Price was named the new third circuit judge in Dade 
county and Paul D. Barns became judge of the new Civil Court of 
Record. Attorney General Rivers Buford succeeded Justice T. F. 
West of Milton on the State Supreme bench. Harry S. New, post- 
master general, called for bids on the first air mail from Miami, 
Tampa and Jacksonville to Atlanta, while Henry Ford prepared to 
open an air passenger line with his new Stout three-motored mono- 
planes. The honor system among state prisoners was ended at 
Raiford and armed guards patroled the stockades into which the 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

strange new criminals from the North were being shunted from 
south Florida. 

Thirty-two schooners jammed the Miami harbor by the time 
the holidays came on, moored head on and rail to rail alongside 
of the Bayfront park, wedged side by side into every dock, and 
periodically running onto the reefs outside the channel in their 
eagerness to make Miami. Forty more schooners were on their 
way, some from as far as Seattle with lumber, presenting the great- 
est windjamming armada gathered at any place on the globe. 
Ships tied up at Peninsula island, and some even tied up along the 
causeway waiting a chance to unload. One schooner carelessly 
threw its hook over the Western Union cable to South America, 
stopping wire communications between the continents for several 

Just before Christmas the interstate commerce commission 
at a series of hearings in Washington announced that the principal 
cause for the continued freight jam in Florida was disagreement 
between officials of the railroads, and moved to take a more active 
hand in the game. 

Meantime the Seaboard was having trouble getting right of 
way from West Palm Beach to Miami, land owners running their 
prices up out of reach. A great mass meeting was called by the 
Miami Chamber of Commerce, with William H. Burwell as chair- 
man, and the outcome was that cash and land to the value of $1,- 
500,000 was handed to the Seaboard, ending its land troubles. 
Meantime, Governor Martin made two appearances in Washing- 
ton on behalf of the railroad and full permission to build the ex- 
tension was granted. 

Miami was a billion-dollar town by Christmas, bank clearings 
having reached that amount for the year 1925. The city of Miami 
alone had issued 7,500 real estate licenses, of which it estimated 
3,000 still were active by the first of 1926. A chamber of commerce 
survey late in December showed a surplus of rooms and apartments, 
which was the end of high rents. 

Four hundred and eighty-one hotels and apartments were 
added in Miami during 1925. One of the last links of the older 
Flagler system with Miami was broken when William H. Beardsley, 
chairman of the F. E. C. board and long-time chief assistant to 
Henry M. Flagler, passed away in New York. 

D. P. Davis, the wonder boy of the Florida West Coast, sold 
out the last of Davis Islands at Tampa as the year waned, disposing 
of $18,138,000 worth of lots in 31 hours. He thereupon moved 
to St. Augustine and began a new boomlet with Davis Shores, 
doomed to failure as the spreading movement of the speculators 
withered over Christmas. 

Davis Islands stands today as a fine testimonial to this devel- 
oper who finally ended his life from a steamer at sea. It is be- 
lieved to be the only major property begun during the boom that 
has been carried through to completion. It was started by Davis 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

in 1924, when he converted three small marshy islands of about 40 
acres into a magnificent site of 832 acres, with paved streets, lights 
and sewers. At the opening sale it was stated that people stood 
in line as long as 40 hours to get the first lots, and by the end of six 
hours $9,000,000 worth of property had been sold. They were 
even giving Miamians free train rides to and from Tampa just to 
look at the islands. 

Today Davis Islands is one of the master subdivisions of 
Tampa. On it is the new Peter O. Knight airport, the $1,500,000 
Tampa Municipal hospital, the beautiful Spanish apartments, the 
Venetian apartments and many others. Near-by a 40-acre site has 
been deeded to the government and a Spanish War Memorial park 
will be built on it. D. P. Davis was like most of the other promo- 
ters here ; he didn't know when to stop, but he left more permanent 
reminders of his activity than most. 

Another who didn't know when to quit was G. Frank Crois- 
sant, who had sold out Croissant Park in the southern part of Fort 
Lauderdale, and late in December was putting on Croissantania, 
north of Fort Lauderdale, as "My Masterpiece." He had taken a 
three-year lease on the ground floor of the Johnson and Moffat 
building at 151 E. Flagler street for the Croissantania sales rooms, 
at a rental of $500,000. To christen "My Masterpiece" suitably, 
the salesmen and citizens in Miami gave him a banquet, and the 
sales force presented him with a shiny new Rolls-Royce touring 
car. Money was simply no object before Christmas, however much 
it may have been conserved after New Year's. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


A BRISK northeast wind was blowing over the bustling Miami 
harbor on the morning of January 10, 1926. It caught the 
four tall masts of the barkentine Prins Valdemar, tempo- 
rarily grounded at the entrance to the turning basin, and gently 
turned the boat on its side, blocking the harbor entrance. 

The barkentine pivoted as it slowly rolled over, so that its 241- 
foot length stoppered the ship channel completely. The masts and 
rigging lay out over the water and into the harbor, like the out- 
stretched arms of some spent runner who has made one agonizing 
leap to break the tape and then falls extended on the cinders. 

It was to be 25 days before anything bigger than a rowboat 
could move in or out of Miami harbor. 

The Prins Valdemar was the largest sailing vessel that had 
entered Miami harbor when it was brought up the channel Novem- 
ber 8 as the property of Cliff Storm, owner of the Ta-Miami Hotel, 
George Riesen and R. J. Walters, to be outfitted as a 100-room hotel 
ship. It was held outside for a week waiting for absolute calm 
because the pilots were afraid to bring such a large vessel down 
the narrow channel. 

Ready at last to begin its hotel experience, the Prins Valdemar 
was being towed out of the Miami harbor to Miami Beach when 
bungling tugmen ran it aground. A receding tide left it high., if 
not dry, and the whistling wind found the ship easy prey. 

Eighty men were working on the Prins Valdemar when the 
warning came she was listing. A card game on deck broke up in 
such confusion that one of the players discovered after he had 
swam to shore that he still clutched the 59-cent "pot" he had 
grabbed. But there was no need for panic, as the boat lay half 
out of water on her side. 

The passenger liner George Washington was just ready to 
leave for the North. Ten other big boats were getting set to move 
out of the harbor and give their places to the scores waiting outside. 
The blood pressure on bridge and dock, and the profanity accom- 
panying it, passed all known highs as the masters of the high seas 
looked out upon the vast bulk that blocked their paths to freedom. 

The city commission at once began plans to dredge a channel 
around the Prins Valdemar, pending efforts to right it. The com- 
mission also wired Gov. John W. Martin urging that George E. 
Manson, the harbormaster, be replaced by someone more com- 
petent, preferably Capt. Melbourne Cook. Captain Manson re- 
torted that the criticism of his handling of ships was due only to 
political enemies, but as his commission already had expired, Gov- 
ernor Martin soon put Captain Cook in as harbormaster. 

After a week of ineffectual dabbling, the federal government 
sent Lieut. Col. Gilbert A. Youngberg from Jacksonville to clear the 
Miami harbor. Working with Maj. George E. Brown of the local 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

office, two dredges were started on an 80-foot channel around the 
recumbent Prins Valdemar, and the four masts were removed with 
ax and acetylene torch, so the dredges could get on with their 

While this was taking place, as many freighters as possible 
lined the causeway. Some even cut holes in their bows to remove 
the merchandise to the shore. When the channel was nicely filled, 
the steamer Lakevort grounded for several days across the outer 
channel, preventing any further movement east of Fisher's island, 
where many boats were unloading onto lighters. Fifty assorted 
schooners and steamers assembled along the edge of the Gulf 
stream opposite Miami Beach. Several went aground on reefs try- 
ing to edge in to land. 

Just as it appeared the new channel around the Prins Valde- 
mar would be completed, and all the captains had steam up to 
leave the harbor, both dredges broke down. Then it was discov- 
ered that dynamite was needed to break the last hard rock ledge, 
and the captains let their steam die down for another week while 
owners paced their New York offices, and the remainder of the 
boats reconditiond for a run to Miami were regretfully hauled back 
to the yards. 

As soon as the blockade took place word went forth to every 
shipping point not to send more boats to Miami. But before it was 
ended, 45,000,000 feet of lumber badly needed in Miami construc- 
tion was floating at anchor outside the harbor, and the investments 
tied up in materials, hardware and furniture began driving many 
a harassed developer toward insolvency. 

The glad day when the dredges completed the new way 
around the Prins Valdemar saw the Georgeanna Weems leading 
the procession out of the harbor. Fifteen other big boats followed, 
some grounding temporarily here and there, one even striking the 
Prins Valdemar as though in rebuff for the delay it had caused. 
The Nancy Weems got caught on a sand bank near the mouth of the 
jetties but fortunately didn't block the way for the others. 

The Prins Valdemar ultimately was refloated and towed away 
in disgrace to the P. & O. channel. Ironically enough, it righted 
itself as soon as the masts were removed and the hold pumped dry. 
It was the only vessel in Miami harbor to ride out the 1926 hurri- 
cane undamaged. 

Today it sits primly beside its pier at the north end of Bay- 
front park and houses Miami's only aquarium. One of its stubby 
remounted masts supports a string of lights at night and flags by 
day, but its seagoing days are over. Its spectacular act marked 
the end of the speculative gold rush to Florida, a strange role in- 
deed for this former Danish naval vessel. Like many another 
Homeric hero, it ends its days quietly with children playing about 
it, and idlers paying scant attention to the marks of former glory. 

In retrospect, it does not seem that many of us felt the bottling 
of the Miami harbor would play a permanent part in the progress 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

of the boom. Certainly ships grounding in the channel were re- 
garded as ordinary hazards until the new federal dredging could 
start. The Mary A. Diebold, for instance, shut up the channel for 
a day until it was finally yanked off into deep water by six tugs that 
nearly tore her deck out. The five-masted schooner Robert L. Lin- 
ton followed the Prins Valdemar and was an even larger boat, but 
it was not grounded. 

Like many other features of the boom, it may seem to us today 
that the Miami harbor could have been managed better. But in the 
furious melting pot where Miami was being made, there was scant 
time for orderly planning, and no precedent for the demands put 
upon the skimpy facilities of those days. 

The Prins Valdemar saved people a lot of money. In the en- 
forced lull which accompanied the efforts to unstopper the Miami 
harbor, many a shipper in the North and many a builder in the 
South got a better grasp of what actually was taking place here. 
A great deal of expensive bric-a-brac that would have been repre- 
sented later by red ink was held at the factory, and many a bank- 
roll was saved from its own folly. 

So perhaps the Prins Valdemar deserves its position as a 
Miami institution. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ ? 

. . . scores of schooners lined Bayjront Park with cargo for the boom, and 
were held there by a bottled harbor during the embargo. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 


HEY even rang the king of Greece in on the Florida boom in 

January, 1926, in an effort to inject some life into a situation 

■ that had been allowed to take a nap over the holidays and 
then refused to awaken. 

You may recall the Floranada club, north of Fort Lauderdale. 
The actual promoter of the elaborately conceived settlement was 
James H. R. Cromwell, son of Mrs. Edward T. Stotesbury of Palm 
Beach, and destined later to marry Doris Duke, the world's richest 
girl. The names that headed the list of active sponsors were 
those of Mrs. Stotesbury, known the world over for her social posi- 
tion; the Countess of Lauderdale, of England; Mrs. Horace E. 
Dodge, Samuel M. Vauclain, president of the Baldwin Locomotive 
Works; John S. Pillsbury, of flour fame; and the king of Greece. 

But those who poured their money and prestige into post- 
boom developments like Floranada were no less deluded than 99 
per cent of those in Miami, at the heart of the movement. Here, 
plans were afoot for the dedication of the University of Miami, to 
which George E. Merrick had given 160 acres in Coral Gables and 
the promise of $5,000,000 for the endowment if a like sum were to 
be raised among the other regents and friends of the university. 

James Cash Penney, soon to be identified with the City Na- 
tional Bank In Miami, started off the pledges with $200,000. Vic- 
tor Hope, a Coral Gables financier, who shared honors with J. K. 
Williams as an "acreage king," came in with a $1,000,000 pledge. 
Others pledged $100,000 each, to bring the endowment within 
working range, and the university cornerstone was laid February 3 
before a great audience ranging through the pine woods south of 
the Miami Biltmore golf course. 

The reinforced concrete frame of the first unit was up before 
the cold truth about the boom finally began to sink into the minds 
and pocketbooks of the people, and that was as far as the original 
idea for a university campus got. The University of Miami itself 
was born in a large V-shaped hotel not far from the center of 
Coral Gables, and there it is today while efforts are made to get 
cash or credit from government or private sources to carry the first 
structure to completion. 

In Miami the Halcyon Hotel was the site of considerable real 
estate broker activity around what they called the Big Board, where 
listings were pooled for the benefit of the group. It was estimated 
rather generally in January that real estate to a value of $1,750,- 
000,000 had been sold in Dade county alone during the preceding 
year, but this figure becomes rather far-fetched if we add up the 
real estate transfers. Five new bridges across the Miami river 
were planned, and footings were already started for the S. E. Sec- 
ond avenue bridge near Dallas Park. 

The site for the present Miami Senior High school was bought 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

from the Knickerbocker Realty Corporation for $275,000. It was 
not 10 years before a better location in front of the high school 
building could have been had for the taxes — and no takers. Jesse 
L. Billingsley, one of the foremost south Florida lawyers, died in a 
Washington hospital. The Urmey Hotel was sold to the Rand in- 
terests by W. N. Urmey for $1,250,000, a hotel he had opened in 
1917, and which he later recovered. 

Counting up at the first of the year showed that Coral Gables 
led all the other developments in 1925 sales, having disposed of 
$94,000,000 in property and extended itself over 10,000 acres. Mer- 
rick and "Jack" Bowman then were engrossed in plans for spend- 
ing $250,000,000 along the edge of Biscayne bay as far south as 
Chapman Field, a section which began with more than $6,000,000 in 
one day's sales late in December. This was helped by the glam- 
orous opening of the Miami Biltmore Hotel and Country club in 

Miami Shores was not far behind with $75,000,000, and the 
developers of that city were busy then with plans for Miami Plaza 
and the building of Biscayne boulevard. Addison Mizner's Boca 
Raton was off to a late start but in the last six months of 1925 sold 
$27,000,000 worth of lots. 

The gorgeous fantasy of Fountania opened in the beautiful 
Theater Fountania in Miami Shores that season, with 350 people 
in the cast. Arthur Voegtlin was employed by the Shoreland Com- 
pany to stage the production along lines of the shows he had pro- 
duced for years in the New York Hippodrome. The Theater Foun- 
tania was a victim of the 1926 hurricane. 

Hollywood and the various companies of Joseph W. Young 
were showing perhaps as much speed as any big south Florida pro- 
motion in the early months of 1926. They even had two marimba 
bands instead of one to please the patrons. Elsie Janis, the sweet- 
heart of the A. E. F., was featured at the Hollywood Golf and 
Country club. 

Gene Tunney entered the real estate business in January while 
he was waiting for a chance to catch Jack Dempsey, the heavy- 
weight champion, in a squared ring. Tunney was pictured rather 
extensively in the advertisements of those days, advocating sub- 
urban life. Especially suburban life such as might be found at 
P. L. Bergoff's Hollywood pines Estates, for which Tunney be- 
came sales manager. 

The first pilings were driven for the five proposed Venetian 
isles north of the present set in February, as sales of lots admitted- 
ly under water went ahead. Carl Fisher's companies opened their 
new radio station WIOD on Collins island, opposite the Nautilus 
Hotel. Joseph Elsener's Club Deauville, today catering to the 
seekers of health under the Barnarr Macfadden regimen, was 
opened to the public on Miami Beach. 

Commodore J. Perry Stoltz was proposing four other Fleet- 
wood hotels to join the parent on Miami Beach. The one on Jump 
Off Mountain, in Asheville, N. C, got farther along than most. The 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

one at Daytona Shores, a $60,000,000 development near Daytona 
Beach, progressed no farther than the first spadeful of dirt, turned 
in an elaborate ceremony which included the governor of the state 
and most of his staff. 

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers gave the greatest 
exhibition of reckless spending of the entire boom when they turned 
more than $10,000,000 loose to create the city of Venice on the 
lower West Coast. The land was bought from Dr. Fred L. Albee 
of near-by Nokomis, probably the foremost bone specialist in the 
United States. The exploitation of the high-powered promoters 
left Venice with acres of unused sewer pipe, miles of unwanted 
streets, scores of apartments and dwellings for which there were 
no tenants, and the curse of wrecking the Brotherhood bank in 

But Venice, like many other boom products, is finding itself. Dr. 
Albee took hold again, performing the same miracles there that he 
has done with the human frame. The Kentucky Military Institute 
leased tw r o big hotels for their winter headquarters. The Florida 
Medical Center has been established and will some day be a great 
asset to Florida, despite the efforts of certain envious Jacksonville 
and St. Petersburg medics to discredit Dr. Albee professionally. 
Bailey Hall, an exclusive boys' school from New York, has leased 
the Treasure island property and is in its second year at Venice. It 
may interest some to know that one vote against the continued 
spending of money for the cross-state canal was that of Senator 
Royal S. Copeland of New York, who looks upon Venice as his 
favorite place in the South. 

The criticism of Florida in the press of the nation had rather 
generally died down by January. Floridians thought the rest of 
the nation finally had got some sense ; we know 7 now that they 
only refrained from speaking ill of the dead. The embargo still 
was hopelessly clamped upon the state, and there were predictions 
it might last two or three years. 

The tourist season itself was not so bad. The Miami Jockey 
club opened winter racing with 31,000 passing the turnstiles, and 
Joe Smoot was looking abroad for other racing worlds to con- 
quer. Music and gaiety filled the night air, although the smiles 
of the salesmen were becoming a trifle strained, and free sand- 
wiches for the prospects were not plentiful enough any more for 
an energetic man actually to live by making a daily round of the 
subdivisions. The hope that springs eternal was on the job in 
Florida — but it began to lose some of its zip as February brought 
the truth closer home. 

The abrupt fall of the Miami boom was cushioned in the first 
part of 1926 by the conception of Biscayne boulevard, which Hugh 
M. Anderson and Roy C. Wright started to carry out, in conjunc- 
tion with the development of the Charles Deering estate in north- 
east Miami. 

We say "cushioned," because this was the only major under- 
taking of private capital during early 1926 which was continued 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

in the better traditions of the boom itself. Biscayne boulevard 
created new values in a city where every other value was reced- 
ing, and it contributed no little to the amazing fact that building 
in Miami during 1926 was more than half as much as during 1925, 
when the principal elements of the Miami skyline were started. 

Anderson and Wright had planned and even plotted the course 
of the boulevard a year before their purchase of the Deering prop- 
erty and its conversion into Miami Plaza. But they could carry out 
the ambitious boulevard program only by getting control of the 
Deering tract. On December 5, 1925, they announced that Charles 
Deering had sold his place, from N. E. Second avenue to the bay 
and stretching nine city blocks north from Forty-first street. It was 
only a few days thereafter, on December 15, that the Harrison Con- 
struction Company moved in to begin clearing the path for the 
new 100-foot boulevard. 

Like some giant mowing machine trundling through a field of 
standing grain, the forces set in motion by the Shoreland Com- 
pany founders cut a broad swath out N. E. Third avenue, starting 
with the destruction of Temple Israel synagogue standing two 
blocks north of the Thirteenth street traffic circle, cleaving through 
the blind alleys and labyrinths of the older part of the city, on 
through the matted tropical jungle which formed the Deering es- 
tate, to Fifty-fifth street, where the Federal highway was to pick 
up the new boulevard and carry it north through Miami Shores into 

Here was a piece of work that disregarded seemingly insuper- 
able difficulties to bring a wholly new civic existence to the east- 
ern side of Miami. This plan was to evolve into a motorway reach- 
ing from the Royal Palm site to Hollywood that has become one of 
the famous drives of the world. Having left the Jewish place of 
worship flat, the wrecking crews rolled on to destroy 85 other build- 
ings, including 12 apartment houses and two hotels. Front porches 
were sliced off, 12 nouses were moved intact to other sites, and the 
irresistible momentum of millions destroyed with the thorough- 
ness of a Kansas cyclone everything else that blocked the progress 
of the new boulevard. 

Anderson and Wright and their associates had bought up 
most of the property needed for the right of way by the first of 
December, before their plans became known. In the first in- 
stance, they put land which had cost them $3,610,000 into the ven- 
ture, and then went on to acquire the remainder, while the city 
of Miami lent its power of condemnation and $1,800,000 in paving 
bonds to the program. This gives only a meager idea of the final 
cost, because we already have seen that the last eight miles of 
Biscayne boulevard were achieved for $1,000,000 a mile. 

At this point it may be of interest to quote portions of a letter 
received a few days ago from Roy Wright, written from the head- 
quarters of the works progress administration in Knoxville, Tenn., 
relating to Biscayne boulevard: 

"We conceived this boulevard and had our engineers survey 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

it a year before we had ever heard of the J. S. Phipps estate. After 
we had bought the Charles Deering estate, we contacted the Phipps 
family and asked them for a $7,000,000 loan to finance the pur- 
chase of the property for the boulevard. They made us the loan 
and in 11 weeks after we started buying, I had signed checks for 
$11,000,000. Our contract with Phipps was that Hugh Anderson 
and I gave our notes for this money and put up stocks in various 
companies we had as collateral. 

"We purchased 98 per cent of all the properties on both sides 
of the present boulevard from Thirteenth to Thirty-sixth streets, in- 
cluding homes, apartments and hotels, and we tore down a Jewish 
synagogue that cost us $250,000. We also bought several homes 
that cost us over $100,000 which were either torn completely down 
or partially destroyed for the right of way. Ed Romfh's house cost 
us $100,000; Frank Wharton's, $125,000; Ed Inglis, $100,000 and 
several others. 

"I sometimes think that Hugh Anderson and myself in a way 
rang up the curtain of the starting of the boom when we bought 
all properties on W. Flagler street from the bridge to Twelfth 
avenue in 1924 and deeded to the city the frontage required to 
widen W. Flagler and make a white w r ay out of it. This created a 
lot of excitement and sales, and we really thought it had a lot to do 
with starting the boom. Then again we rang the curtain down on 
the boom, as we were still buying properties on the boulevard and 
just put on the Deering estate when the boom died on us. These 
were the last large transactions of the boom." 

Today Biscayne boulevard starts at S. E. Second street, at 
the gateway to the former gardens of the old Royal Palm Hotel, and 
sweeps northward, 250 feet wide, in four lanes of traffic separated 
by parkways studded with palms; after passing the Thirteenth 
street traffic circle hazard, it enters a two-lane system 100 feet 
wide, which persists for three miles, except where it widens to 180 
feet through a part of Miami Plaza. The federal government took 
over the building of the boulevard at Fifty-fifth street. Beyond the 
Miami city limits, the boulevard is split again into two one-way 
roads as far as the Hollywood city limits. It is a fitting terminus 
for the Dixie highway which Carl G. Fisher planned in 1914, when 
Florida sand first was sifting into his shoes. 

It is difficult at this time to say which came first, the chicken 
or the egg, Miami Plaza or Biscayne boulevard. At any rate, they 
hit the public eye together, in the days when only the stout-hearted 
and the far-seeing were risking such dreams and hard cash in a 
Miami where the full flush of the speculative boom already had 
assumed the sickly cast of Roquefort cheese. 

With Anderson and Wright in the Miami Plaza company were 
J. S. Phipps, principal heir to the Henry C. Phipps Estate of New 
York; Lester F. Alexander of New Orleans; David T. Layman, fi- 
nancial manager of the Phipps estate; and Paul R. Scott, then 
with the law firm of Twyman, Scott & McCarthy. 

William I. Phillips represented the Charles Deering interests 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

in Miami. He got a lukewarm reception when he first proposed 
to Mr. Deering that his tropical paradise in northeast Miami be 
sold to Anderson and Wright. The initial offer to buy came in 
February, 1925, but it was not until months later when Phillips 
broached the proposition to Chauncey McCormick, son-in-law of 
Charles Deering, that a friendlier ear was turned to the idea. 
Finally Phillips took Anderson, Wright and Fred W. Casonto Deer- 
ing's home in Chicago and there closed the deal. 

Miami Plaza as a development was caught in the backwash 
of the boom and today is in the hands of the Deering heirs. But 
when the ebbing fortunes of Anderson and Wright forced them out 
of the picture in 1926, the Phipps estate took over the assets of the 
Anderson-Wright companies in order to protect the investment 
made by the Phipps family, formed the Biscayne Boulevard Com- 
pany and completed the boulevard. Had it not been for this action 
on the part of the Phipps interests, the boulevard and the properties 
involved in widening N. E. Third avenue would have been left in 
such a chaotic state that it would have been necessary, finally, for 
the city of Miami to have spent many millions of dollars to carry out 
the Anderson-Wright plan. 

The Biscayne Boulevard Company in its Florida operations has 
been directed by Paul Scott as president, and by Roy H. Hawkins 
as vice president and operations manager. Eighty-five per cent 
of all the property fronting on Biscayne boulevard from Thirteenth 
street to Fortieth street is owned and operated by the Biscayne 
Boulevard Company, and all the new commercial buildings along 
the way were built by this company. 

This tale is concerned chiefly with the beginning and not the 
end of Biscayne boulevard. Its genesis in the 1925-26 boom was 
scant warning of what it would be, like so many other creations of 
that period. The splendid architecture of Robert L. Weed and 
Vladimir L. Virrick was to come later, along with the landscaping 
which makes the boulevard today distinctive in a region where 
beauty is the accepted rule. 

Like the anesthesia which prepares our nerves for the shock 
of the surgeon's knife, the creation of Biscayne boulevard kept 
Miami going during the summer of 1926 despite the discovery that 
$50,000 lots no longer could be sold for one-tenth of that amount 
or that the "summer tourist season" of 1925 was nothing but a de- 

The boulevard, therefore, is something more than just a wide 
strip of asphalt to south Florida. It is an institution whose bright 
flowering of today gives no hint of the bitter disappointments on 
which its first roots fed. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

HE captains and the kings had by no means departed in Feb- 

ruary, 1926, but on the contrary were arriving in great num- 

bers to make an unusual tourist season, comparable only to 
those of today. 

As a matter of fact, while we know in looking back that the 
speculative boom then was at least moribund, every sign pointed 
to its revival in March just as the speculative spree had picked up 
in March, 1925. Miami by now was famous, and the facilities for 
entertaining those drawn by her fame were greatly increased over 
the years when it simply was a small Florida town revolving around 
its bright yellow Florida East Coast depot. 

Although it no longer was considered proper to print the daily 
amounts of property transferred, as someone might begin to make 
odious comparisons, Tatum Brothers reported that their sales of 
$1,800,000 for the first six weeks of 1926 were well ahead of the 
same period of 1925. Alfred H. Wagg, who was a successful real 
estate operator in Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, moved to 
Miami and opened an office to sell Riviera Gardens, west of Coral 

Having set a world's record of 42,500,000 lines of advertising 
in 1925, 12,000,000 lines more than any newspaper, ever had car- 
ried in a year's time, The Miami Herald had the biggest advertis- 
ing month of its life in January, 1926, while February was not far 
behind. The boys may have been going down, but they were going 
down fighting, still putting the long green on the counter. 

As in bygone years, such institutions as the Royal Palm Hotel 
had opened with discreet whoopee, and the season began on sched- 
ule about the middle of January. Great names flooded the news, 
and music and good times in south Florida were never better. Flo 
Ziegf eld with his "Palm Beach Nights" was giving that older winter 
group the glorified American girl in competition with Arthur Voegt- 
Ln's "Fountania" at Miami Shores, and promising to stage a spe- 
cial show for Miami. 

Feador Chaliapin, the great Russian basso, sang in the Bilt- 
more that winter, while Galli Curci filled the White Temple to 
overflowing with her gifted voice. Paderewski also packed the 
White Temple. Paul Whiteman brought his famous orchestra to 
the Coral Gables Country club to give Jan Garber a little rest. 

A large athletic stadium had been rushed to completion in 
Coral Gables in time for Red Grange and his Chicago Bears' pro- 
fessional football team to meet Tim Callahan's Coral Gables Col- 
legians, a game which the famous Grange won with 7 points. Peter 
de Paola defeated a high-class field in the first 300-mile automobile 
race in the great wooden racing bowl at Fulford. Tex Rickard, 
then owner of the new Madison Square Garden in New York, an- 



$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

nounced that he and Paul R. Scott of the new N. E. Third avenue 
development were going to build a sports stadium in Miami Plaza 
to cost $1,000,000. Those were still great days for dreams. 

The principal reason that most of them refused to believe the 
boom was over in February was because one could see before his 
very eyes the evidence to contradict such heresies. Miami on the 
skids, when the new Roney Plaza Hotel at Miami Beach opened 
with a full house? Merrick slipping, with the great Miami Bilt- 
more and Country club actually there, and the brilliant opening of 
Tahiti Beach to point the way to future glories? Of course not, one 
said, and reflected that January was always a funny month anyway. 

Everywhere one went, a building boom was under way. Trac- 
tors were snorting through the pine woods in the lower part of 
Coral Gables getting ready for the University of Miami. Raymond 
and Margaret Burlingame were constructing the little island bear- 
ing their name at the mouth of the Miami river. Construction in 
48 Florida cities in 1925 amounted to $307,324,887, and as much 
more was planned for 1926. 

With only 954 votes cast, the citizens of Miami approved new 
bonds in the amount of $11,250,000 for city improvements, includ- 
ing the debated item of $1,500,000 for advancing money to the 
federal government for the harbor. E. G. Sewell and George A. 
Waldeck organized the Voters and Taxpayers Protective League 
and made a hard fight against that item, claiming the city needn't 
bond itself for a temporary loan, but the issue passed in the name 
of civic progress. Miami Beach voted $2,654,000 in new bonds 
for its needed expansion. 

Skeptics saw Miami starting the tallest courthouse in the 
South, constructing the new building like a shell around the old 
courthouse, to avoid disrupting work. They saw the new home of 
the Miami Woman's club nearing completion on the bayfront. The 
n^w Venetian causeway was opened with fitting ceremonies, as 
the memory of John S. Collins and the old wooden bridge the cause- 
way replaced were revived. The Club Deauville began doing busi- 
ness on upper Miami Beach. The new Olympia Theater was 
opened in downtown Miami, when Ed Romfh made a speech and 
the stars in the roof began twinkling and Harry A. Leach took up 
his duties as resident manager. 

The new Columbus Hotel on the bayfront was completed and 
opened in February. So, also, were the Everglades, the Alcazar 
Hotel, the Woman's club building and the First Trust building in 
Miami, the Floridian Hotel at Miami Beach, the Venetian Hotel, 
the great new Alba Hotel at Palm Beach, and the Hollywood Ho- 
tel at Joe Young's place. The City National Bank of Miami began 
with the greatly respected S. M. Tatum as chairman of the board, 
and Clark B. Davis as president. There were no augurs then to pre- 
dict the end of that institution, with J. C. Penney, the chain store 
prince, driven from his Belle Isle estate and his stores barred from 
this county by the force of public disapproval, all because he 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

promised more in support of that bank than most of its depositors 
believe he really delivered in the dark days of 1930. 

S. E. First street was being cut through Royal Palm park from 
the Huntington building to the future Biscayne boulevard. Arthur 
Pryor was conferring with city heads on plans for the new band- 
shell on the fill. Burdine's department store dedicated its new ad- 
dition. Frederick A. Clawson lifted a ceremonial shovelful of dirt 
in Dallas Park for the first of five 21-story Florida Motor Marts, 
to handle the parking situation. 

There still were a few big sales in the downtown part of 
Miami, but none of them means anything today. Most important 
news of February was the lifting of the freight embargo on Flor- 
ida railroads, an embargo that had gripped the state since Sep- 
tember. The dismasted Prins Valdemar finally was floated after 
42 days in the mouth of the Miami ship channel, and everything 
began to look all right again. 

With Lon Worth Crow as its new president, the Miami Cham- 
ber of Commerce staged a membership drive in February that 
brought more than 7,000 names on the rolls, making Miami's cham- 
ber second in size only to that of Los Angeles, which city Miami 
lusted to overtake. The first air mail contract was awarded to 
Florida Airways, Inc., a Ford subsidiary with Reed M. Chambers 
as president. Service was expected to start April 1 between Miami, 
Tampa and Jacksonville, joining Atlanta and Chicago soon after. 
Tom C. Hammond at a Tampa dinner proposed that Gov. John W. 
Martin be a candidate to replace United States Senator Park Tram- 
mell in 1928, a proposal that found prompt favor throughout the 
boom area. 

Only the burning of the McDonald Lumber Company ware- 
house back of The Herald building cast a blot on the February 
record. The brilliance of the tourist season took the sting out 
of the obvious fact that people no longer clapped their hands and 
ran temperatures when a new subdivision opened. 

Just when everything seemed about to boom again in a gentler 
sort of way at Miami, the stock market, in March, 1926, took its 
worst tumble since 1920, skidding abruptly downward when the 
interstate commerce commission refused to approve the Van Swer- 
ingens' Nickle Plate railroad merger. 

The market decline served notice on many that New York 
would not pour money that spring into south Florida to restore real 
estate which was admittedly "inert." It even cast such a chill over 
the purses of the wealthy that Billy Gibson, manager of Light 
Heavyweight Champion Gene Tunney, called off a proposed Miami 
fight with Young Stribling on the night before the date of the bout 
because no one could be found to guarantee Tunney's $50,000 
share of the purse. Jesse Baugh and his fellow promoters were 
left to fight with the sheriff and the creditors over a big pile of 
lumber nailed into the form of a fight arena at Hialeah. 

Instead of sales, the lot salesmen then were holding auctions 
of property, which meant that most of them were taking what they 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

could get from the public which still clung to the remnants of the 
boom. A slick promoter incorporated the town of Miami Shores 
north of the famous development of that name, but it was too late 
to get either cash or glory from the trick, and few remember today 
where it was. South Miami took form around the old store of W. 
A. Larkins and the people elected W. A. Foster its first mayor. 

On the other end of Miami, the Cincinnati capitalists who 
comprised the Donnelly Realty Company were having fair success 
with North Miami, the bulk of which is included in the present 
town of that name, along with Irons Manor. Arthur Griff ing's Bis- 
cayne Park Estates near-by has since been split up between the 
town of Biscayne Park, and North Miami. 

Aladdin City was the most pugnacious of the postboom sub- 
divisions, holding out the suggestion in daily advertisements that 
some previously unrevealed magic would bring fortune to Aladdin 
lot owners, regardless of what was taking place elsewhere. It was 
laid out on the West Dixie highway about eight miles south of Coral 
Gables by O. E. Soverign of Bay City, Mich., but the lamp of Alad- 
din refused to shine for him, even with the indorsement of Senator 
Duncan U. Fletcher. 

Western Miami was opened by Lummus & Young north of the 
townsite of Sweetwater and west of the Milam dairy. J. Leroy 
Farmer started Tamiami Townsites 18 miles west of Coral Gables 
on the Trail with lots as low as $47.50. Pinecrest was the Chevelier 
Corporation's bid for city population on its far-flung Everglades 
lands, more than 40 miles straight west of Miami. The southern 
loop of the new Tamiami Trail was routed through Pinecrest by 
Fons A. Hathaway of the state road department, principally be- 
cause that was Monroe county's only opportunity to get a state 

Cocoplum Gardens, near the Biscayne bay section of Coral 
Gables, sprang up under the hand of Irving J. Thomas, whose 14 
years in Coconut Grove real estate made him outstanding in that 
section during the boom. 

The new viaducts on the county causeway still were not fully 
opened by the first of March, and of course traffic between Miami 
and Miami Beach was badly congested despite the dedication of 
the new Venetian causeway. Miami Beach hinted darkly that "in- 
terests" must be conspiring to delay the completion of the viaducts. 
The largest piece of steel to enter Florida — 72 feet long — was 
brought on two flat cars for the new Miami Coliseum at Coral 

As plans for cutting up old Royal Palm park went on, the 
Model Land Company announced it would build the 12-story Ingra- 
ham building on part of its land fronting on S. E. Second avenue, 
next to the corner where Tatum brothers built their office on the 
site of the original home of the Miami Woman's club. 

People had time for other interests than real estate in March. 
An entire week of grand opera found as many as 3,500 music lovers 
filling a large tent in Coral Gables, where Mary Garden and the 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

Chicago Civic Opera Company brought stars of the singing world 
to south Florida. Great circus tents on the new bayfront fill held 
exhibits of the Dade County fair that were viewed daily by 10,000 

Madame Louise Homer carried on the musical series at the 
White Temple. Fox hunting became a popular sport at the Miami 
Biltmore Hotel. Beach scenes at Tahiti were almost as inspiring as 
on the ocean. Sarah Jane Heliker became Miss Miami of 1926 in 
a spirited bathing beauty contest in the Hialeah fronton. 

As Miami was first to contract "boomitis," so it was first to 
lose the fever. In many other parts of Florida, the boom was 
not over so quickly. Many a smaller center of population was is- 
suing bonds and staking out lots and putting in public improve- 
ments long after the sucker list had been exhausted in Miami. If 
we have not dealt with these other boom spots, it is not through 
lack of interest. But the story of each was only another version of 
what took place in Dade county. 

The boom really extended into every part of Florida, for the 
name of the state itself was the magic needed to convince potential 
buyers. At Key West, Garrison Park closed the boom on one end of 
the keys, while Anglers Park and Key Largo City ended it on the 
other. Dozens of empty subdivisions lined the roads from the keys 
to Miami. North from Miami it was the same story. Only the lit- 
tle town of Dania, stuck in between Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood 
and at one time annexed by the latter, seems to have come through 
the boom without perceptible change. 

J. P. Newell's Fort Pierce Beach and its $50,000 bathing 
casino was one of the best boom hopes of that section. West 
Palm Beach, Stuart, Melbourne, Fort Pierce, Vero Beach, Coco?, and 
Cocoa Beach, the Merritt Island development of Canaveral Harbor 
and the various subdivisions centering around Daytona Beach and 
St. Augustine made the East Coast hum. Notable developments 
such as Snell Isle at St. Petersburg, Ringling Isles at Sarasota, Ho- 
mosassa, 'The Miracle City," Clearwater, New Port Richey and 
many others contributed to similar expansion on Florida's West 

Though the central part of Florida suffered in a promotional 
way by lack of beaches, it offset this to some extent with lakes. 
Orlando needed no boom to be a beautiful city, but it gained much 
headway at that time. Sanford was pushed into an abnormal 
growth by its mayor and leading banker, Forrest Lake, who nar- 
rowly escaped a prison sentence for his fiscal activities during the 
boom. Lakeland and many smaller cities along the Ridge of Flor- 
ida, like Sebring, Avon Park, Frostproof, Haines City, Lake Wales 
and Winter Haven, blossomed out into much larger cities during this 
period, although the bonded debt they incurred in the optimism of 
those days has hung on like the weakening aftermath of the influ- 
enza ever since. 

Each of these places has a boom history of intense interest to 
its people, just as nearly every person who was touched by the real 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

estate speculation has a story of his own that lives, ever green, in 
memory. But the covers of no book could contain them, and the 
writer's only hope is that individuals, reading this report of the 
boom, can find places in it that bring the reaction: "That also 
happened to me." 

When Miami horse racing ended in March, 1926, the tourist 
season vanished as completely and almost as fast as it used to do 
in the years before speculation ruled. But building went busily 
on that spring and summer. The Seaboard Air Line railroad opened 
its new spurs into Miami on the East Coast and Naples on the West 
Coast. The federal government began digging a deeper Miami 
harbor. The clatter of the riveter and the noise of the carpenter 
sounded almost as loudly that spring as ever. By April, Miamians 
had even reconciled themselves to the feeling that "Thank God, we 
won't have another summer like the last one. This is the beginning 
of a steady growth that will see Miami a city of a million permanent 
population in 10 years." 

. . . only this clay model and a weed-screened frame show what the University of 
Miami might have been. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

HEN three tropical storms were reported rushing about the 

Atlantic ocean on September 15, 1926, the new Miami and 

boom-populated south Florida gave the news scant thought. 
Most of the population had never experienced a hurricane. 

The summer had been comparatively quiet in Miami, although 
more than $21,000,000 in new building had started since January 1. 
Twenty new school buildings had gone up, and the contract for the 
$1,000,000 senior high school was ready to be let. A new plant 
costing $1,000,000 was being rushed to completion for the Southern 
Baking Company, successors to John Seybold in Miami. The high- 
way Construction Company of Ohio was engaged in laying $2,000,- 
000 worth of paved streets for Miami. 

S. A. Ryan Motor Company was finishing its magnificent $1,- 
500,000 automobile show room on the Miami river, while near-by 
the four-story addition to the Florida East Coast railroad freight 
warehouse was being filled. Across the tracks from the freight de- 
pot was the new Wolf Construction Company warehouse, 8 stories 

Although the number of real estate transactions in all subdivi- 
sions had steadily decreased since March, Coral Gables and George 
E. Merrick still carried on a vigorous sales campaign. They had sent 
out 20,000 invitations to property owners to come back in the fall 
for a look at what had been done in Coral Gables. Bids for paving 
the new Biscayne boulevard from Thirteenth street to Thirty-ninth 
were being opened in September, while on the western side of 
Miami the state road department was completing the Tamiami Trail. 
Two dredges had been moved in by the Arundel Corporation to be- 
gin work on Miami's new channel and harbor. 

As September opened, everyone in south Florida was hope- 
ful that the new tourist season would bring back something like an- 
other boom on a reduced scale. The people cheered at the open- 
ing of the first air mail service to Atlanta when the Miss Miami left 
on its maiden mail flight September 14. Much of the local con- 
versation centered on the "First Battle of the Century" in Philadel- 
phia, from which the popular Gene Tunney was to emerge the 
world's heavyweight boxing champion in a decision over Jack 

Miamians suddenly realized on the morning of September 17 
that trouble was ahead when a hurricane reported blowing 100 
miles an hour was said to be pointing straight at the Florida coast 
from Turks island, north of Haiti. Owners of vessels in the harbor 
made their craft fast, while some moved into the Miami river. Only 
the old-timers who remembered the storm of 1910 and the heritage 
of hurricanes in the preceding century holed up and prepared for 
the worst. Even the gale which blew over Miami Friday the seven- 
teenth brought on no special preparations to meet what followed. 



$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

By Friday night the hurricane was over Nassau and rushing to- 
ward Miami. It moved in on the Florida coast soon after midnight 
and by 6 o'clock Saturday morning the wind was shredding the East 
Coast of Florida from Stuart to the keys at an estimated 125 
miles an hour at Miami Beach and 120 miles an hour on the main- 
land at Miami. One could only estimate it, as all weather instru- 
ments except those in protected places were destroyed. 

Following the lull at 8 o'clock in the morning when hundreds 
came out into the peaceful summer morning, the wind suddenly 
picked up from the south and soon was blowing almost as hard 
from the opposite direction, bringing death and injuries to many 
who found themselves suddenly cut off from safety and menaced 
by lumber and strips of tin and refuse hurtling through the air with 
the speed of bullets. 

We shall not attempt here to describe the hurricane nor the 
scenes of chaos and ruin which the storm left in its wake as it moved 
across Florida and up to Pensacola and Mobile. Better pens than 
this have left intimate and gripping passages to which historians can 
turn for the gory details. 

All day Saturday the people of the lower East Coast fought 
for their lives against the wind. Peace from the slashing rain, the 
mountainous waves and the murderous wind came in the late after- 
noon, and the people of Miami and her sister cities began to grope 
their way through darkness and debris to find out what had taken 

Communication with the outer world was cut off early Satur- 
day, as wires went down and even the 437-foot tower of the Trop- 
ical Radio station in Hialeah, built to withstand wind of 100 miles 
an hour, slowly crumpled and fell. It was not until Sunday morn- 
ing that a makeshift radio was set up in Hialeah, and a message re- 
layed to the outer world through one of the near-by ships. 

The nation's newspapers Sunday carried great black headlines 
"South Florida Wiped Out In Storm." That was all they knew, and 
the fame of Miami made all the more poignant the belief that this 
beautiful city had been flattened and destroyed. But by Sunday 
night the world knew that at least a few remnants of south Flor- 
ida were left, and by Monday The Miami Herald printed an edi- 
tion in the plant of the Palm Beach Post which carried north the 
first details of the storm. 

Relief soon was on the way. The national guard took over 
the city under martial law for Sunday and Monday. The American 
Red Cross swung into immediate action. Food was free to those 
who had no money, and every hotel and apartment was opened to 
the homeless. Bathing suits were the uniforms of most of the peo- 
ple after the storm, as they picked their way about the debris- 
littered streets or through what was left of their homes. 

James H. Gilman, as the only member of the Miami city com- 
mission in Miami at the time of the storm, was in complete charge 
of the immediate emergency measures, and did a heroic job of 
preventing panic and supplying the most urgent human needs. In 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

addition to his own untiring efforts, he used the personnel of the 
Bank of Bay Biscayne, which he headed, wherever needed. 

Mr. Gilman also was director of the Red Cross work until E. B. 
Douglas returned from California. Committees hastily organized 
by the citizens to clear streets, house the homeless, provide food, 
and search debris for the dead or injured, found in James H. Gil- 
man a tower of strength in tnat emergency. 

Two hundred and fifty lost children and babies were restored 
to their parents at a children's bureau in the White Temple. Some, 
of course, had no surviving parents nor records to tell anything 
about them. Three hundred volunteer plumbers covered the city 
to stop water leaks and enable the city water system to be restored. 

A special train was chartered by Joseph W. Young of Holly- 
wood in New York, and left at midnight Sunday on a record 31- 
hour run, carrying Mayor E. C. Romfh, James A. Allison, John H. 
Levi, Frank B. Shutts, James Fowler and Mr. and Mrs. Jesse An- 
drews back from summer vacations to throw what resources they 
had into the rescue work. 

Meeting with Gov. John W. Martin in Miami Tuesday morning, 
Mayor Romfh organized a general executive committee to take 
charge of reconstruction and rehabilitation for the 47,000 left 
homeless by the storm. This committee was composed of Frank B. 
Shutts as chairman, Mrs. Ruth Bryan Owen, Mayor Romfh, F. M. 
Hudson, Senator John W. Watson, E. B. Douglas, head of the local 
chapter of the American Red Cross, and Ross A. Reeder, chairman 
of the general relief committee. The Red Cross handled immediate 
relief cases. C. H. Reeder was in charge of food relief stations 
which dotted this area. 

As the executive committee swung into supreme control of the 
Miami rehabilitation, Miami Beach began to dig out from under the 
deep layer of sand overlying streets and even hotel lobbies, with a 
"dictator" in charge of each of 16 districts, and John B. Reid direct- 
ing the program. National guardsmen remained in the lower East 
Coast under command of Col. Vivian B. Collins for nearly two 
weeks, but there was no martial law after Monday the twentieth. 

The wildest disorder prevailed along the water front, where 
boats of every description had been picked up and hurled inland, 
to rest grotesquely on aristocratic Point View lawns, to fill S. Bay- 
shore drive in Silver Bluff, dot the new Bayfront park and nestle 
up against bayfront hotels. Ninety vessels were sunk or damaged 
in the Miami river, and 49 in the bay were sunk or battered around. 
The two dredges starting work on the ship channel sank. The 
schooner Rose Mahoney was driven up on the bayfront and re- 
mained there for a long time. The Baltimore and Carolina Line 
warehouses were completely destroyed, and the others were pretty 
well ruined. 

In Miami, 2,000 homes were destroyed and 3,000 damaged, 
principally from roofs blowing off and windows blowing in. The 
haste of boom construction exacted a frightful toll. Even worse 
were conditions at Fort Lauderdale where 1,200 houses w T ere blown 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

down and 3,600 damaged. In Hollywood where the front was blown 
out of at least one hotel, 1,000 houses were gone, and 2,000 were 
damaged. So it went, in lesser degree, beyond Stuart, and far 
down on the keys. 

The little town of Moore Haven on the western shore of Lake 
Okeechobee was almost demolished, and national guardsmen 
evacuated the entire community to Sebring. 

Altogether, 113 known dead were recovered after the storm, 
while 854 were received in hospitals and countless others licked 
their own wounds. It was the greatest catastrophe in the history of 
the United States since the fire and earthquake in San Francisco. 
The entire world, from presidents and kings on down, seemed 
moved by the story. Donations totaling more than $3,000,000 were 
given the American Red Cross for Florida relief, and nearly $250,- 
000 was sent directly into Miami in response to an appeal from the 
executive committee. 

In addition to the general nation-wide response, William R. 
Hearst's Chicago Herald-Examiner sent a special train to Miami 
Thursday after the storm, with 100 doctors, nurses and engineers, 
and equipment which included four chlorine water treating units. 
Also, Hearst gave the first $10,000 received by the executive 
committee. The members of the special train were scattered from 
Homestead to Fort Lauderdale and worked night and day for more 
than a week. 

Every available state agency was pulled into southeast Flor- 
ida by Governor Martin to assist the national guard in aiding the 
people. The gunboat Cuba arrived from Havana with a detail of 
doctors, the gift of President Machado. 

The wind and water had pushed the street car tracks from 
the center of the county causeway to the outer edge and knocked 
down the poles, so it was necessary to route all traffic to Miami 
Beach over the Venetian causeway. Sheriff Henry R. Chase and 
the Miami Beach police detailed armed men to watch beside a 
"censor" who kept undesirable characters from getting to Miami 
Beach during its period of recovery. 

Coral Gables was damaged least of all the cities. In Hialeah 
and in the outskirts of Miami where flimsy frame houses and piles 
of junk and trash were hurled about by the terrific wind, the de- 
struction was beyond all description. Damage to plate glass win- 
dows, left unprotected, resulted in most of the downtown buildings 
being drenched with water. The Meyer-Kiser building was con- 
demned as unsafe and later was torn down to its present height. 

Within a week, Mayor Romfh sent a long statement to the 
press of the nation declaring Miami was almost back to normal, 
and at the end of 10 days the national guard was demobilized, and 
the citizens' committee restored the full reins of recovery to the 
regular city and county government. 

Mayor Romfh declared Miami was almost recovered. But she 
had not and the following tourist season was one of the poorest 
in years. All the shoddy work of the boom stood out for the world 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

to see, and for years there were grim reminders all about to make 
investors think twice before they bought in Florida. 

Building loss in the Miami area was estimated at $20,000,- 
000, although only $5,000,000 in building permits were issued later 
by Miami specifically for repairing storm damage. Most of the de- 
struction took place in the jerry-built houses and little stores thrown 
up when labor and materials were at such a premium and the de- 
mand for housing was so urgent. 

The second phase of the boom, the construction era, was ended 
with the hurricane. For eight long years, Miami tried to beat back, 
through bank failures, a world-wide depression and the choking 
constriction of the nation's credit. By 1933 Miami began to pull 
ahead of most records of the 1925 boom. Today we have achieved 
a new real estate movement that has not, of course, brought as 
much money, or quite so many people, or as much nervous pros- 
tration to the people of Florida as that other one did, but it is 
infinitely more satisfying. 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 



$ $ $ 


//4 % /E DON'T want another boom in Florida." 

yy So often that has been said in the last few years, but I 
wonder if people really mean it? The aftermath of the 
1925-26 speculation was bitter, it is true, but like the turmoil of 
spring plowing, the boom created values, and not even bank fail- 
ures and hurricanes could erase them. 

In looking back, we see that this largest Florida boom had 
definite seedbeds of promotion. First, of course, was the unde- 
niable and unchanging climate. This was made accessible first to 
the wealthy by the coming of Henry M. Flagler and the Florida 
East Coast railroad. The early insistence upon municipal advertis- 
ing by E. G. Sewell and the Miami Chamber of Commerce spread 
to the middle class the appeal of south Florida. 

The end of the World war saw millions of Americans in a 
restless, almost foot-loose mood. The coming of easy transporta- 
tion through the motor car and good roads answered the demands 
of this yeasty social condition. The so-called Coolidge prosperity 
which began with the stock market climb late in 1924, released 
great floods of capital which found in Florida even more entice- 
ment than in common stocks. The brief era of the binder boys from 
March, 1925, to September of that year set up a powerful suction 
which drew money from almost every bank in the world into Flor- 
ida, and particularly toward Miami. 

Sunshine and ocean bathing in winter, and a slightly fictitious 
belief in the fertility of Florida soil helped to create the demand 
for Florida lots and acreage. The pioneering spirit, flowering in 
men and women able to dream and to command money with which 
to translate their dreams into reality, traded upon the common 
yearning for a place in the sun. 

This produced two results, an inflated set of land values and 
an enormous volume of construction. The first has dwindled or 
disappeared entirely. The second remains, and regardless of where 
the money and the equities involved have gone, the steel and wood 
and concrete are with us still. The tide of building which ebbed 
so swiftly after the hurricane of 1926 has set in again, this time 
with more definite and conservative demand for space to assure the 
investors of an adequate return. 

The speculative boom began to wither in September, 1925, 
after the binder boys and the big-talking promoters had staged a 
series of mammoth sales that gorged the buying public like a 10- 
year-old boy at a family reunion. Following that brief stuffing 
process, nation-wide hostility toward Florida, and the cramping 
effects of the freight embargoes prompted the withdrawal of much 
money in the fall and winter of 1925. Although most Floridians 
thought the boom would pick up again after the Christmas holidays, 


$ $ $ MIAMI MILLIONS $ $ $ 

it was evident at least to most Miamians by the end of March that 
their hopes for large scale revival were doomed. 

But 1926 was not such a bad year as it might appear in retro- 
spect. Let us take the number of property deeds and similar 
papers pertaining to real estate as an index. During 1925, the 
Dade county clerk received 174,530 deeds and allied papers for fil- 
ing. In 1926, he filed 98,462, indicating that the latter year saw 
at least half as much activity in Dade county real estate as the first 
boom year. This number dropped to 17,351 in the low year of 
1932, and for 1935 had climbed back to 34,273, or about the 
amount of activity recorded for 1923. 

Another index may be found in the number of subdivisions 
created in Dade county. Throughout the life of the present Dade 
county, 4,122 subdivisions have been platted. Of that number, 971 
were created in 1925, while in 1926, 395 subdivisions came into 
existence in this county, again near the halfway mark of the ban- 
ner year. The low mark for subdivisions also was 1932, when 25 
were platted. The fact that more than 32 were not created even 
in the revival year of 1935 indicates that so much of Dade county 
already is subdivided that they may soon have to begin cutting up 
50-foot lots. 

The events that hurt Florida in that other boom, in general, 
were led by the vanishing of paper fortunes and the keen disap- 
pointment of those who saw what they thought were 18 karat profits 
turn to cigar store coupons before their very eyes; next came the 
1926 and 1928 hurricanes which ruined many firms who already 
were trembling on the edge of insolvency ; finally there came the 
national depression and the Florida bank failures of 1929 and 
1930, when every bank in Dade county except the First National 
and its affiliates, and the Bank of Hialeah closed their doors for- 
ever. When men pray: "Deliver us from another boom!" they 
mean from the effects thereof. 

We cannot say that Florida will not have other booms, but 
it is evident that this state never again will see the same kind of 
a boom, nor experience in this generation, at least, the same dam- 
age to pride and pocketbook that followed 1925 and 1926.